Baekers off to historic start as ‘Cats continue season-opening road trip

By Logan Schiciano

Bente Baekers is no stranger to the spotlight. 

Ever since her debut season in 2019, she has led the Northwestern field hockey team in goals – netting 28 in her freshman campaign, the second-most ever by a Wildcat in a single season. She was Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2019, First-Team All-Big Ten in 2019 and 2021, and is a three-time All-American. 

But if Baekers’ performance in the ‘Cats first two games of 2022 is any indication of how the rest of the season will pan out, she will be taking her game to new heights, smashing Northwestern scoring records on the way. 

The Wildcats, who opened the season as the top-ranked team in the country, picked up a pair of victories against two top-25 teams – the University of Maine and the University of Massachusetts Amherst – on Sunday and Monday. In these games, Baekers scored a combined six goals, helping Northwestern trounce both of its opponents. 

Baekers currently ranks second in the nation among active players in career goals and points. She also became the first Wildcat to score six goals through the team’s first two games since at least 1999, according to Northwestern Athletics. 

While it may be unrealistic to think Baekers can continue her three goals per game pace (which would give her a NCAA-record 54 goals for the season), she needs only 24 more to break Northwestern’s all-time record for goals (29), which is held by Chelsea Armstrong. This would require Baekers to score roughly 1.33 goals per game for the rest of the regular season and postseason. 

With her electric start over the weekend, the Netherlands native was recognized as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. She now has 67 career goals – good for second place all-time at Northwestern. Armstrong, who played for Northwestern from 2009-2012, also tops her in this category with 100 career goals.    

Northwestern’s top-priority this season will undoubtedly be to defend its first National Championship in program history. But Baekers quest for individual glory will certainly be worth following along the way. 

The ‘Cats will continue their season-opening road trip this weekend against No. 18 Duke and No. 15 Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The team’s first home game against Liberty on Sept. 9 will be a rematch of last year’s final.

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