Category Archive for Lacrosse

Jul 2, 2014

The Northwestern lacrosse team won’t have to wait long for a shot at revenge. The brand new Big 10 lacrosse conference released a preliminary schedule for the 2015 season Tuesday, and Northwestern will face defending champion Maryland in the Big 10 opener at Lakeside Field in late March.

The Terps topped NU in the Final Four in May. The last time NU and MD played in the regular reason was in 2007 when the Cats won 12-7.

Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan fill out the rest of the Big 10 lacrosse conference. There are five weeks in the Big 10 season. All teams play each other once. The specific matchup dates and times are pending due to television selections.

Northwestern travels to Ann Arbor Week 2 to take on a second-year Michigan team the following week. Then the Cats head to New Jersey to face Rutgers for the first time in six years. The Cats own an all-time record of 7-0 against the Scarlet Knights.

NU then hosts Penn State and Ohio State in weeks 4 and 5 to close out the regular season. The Cats will return to Rutgers University for the Big 10 Lacrosse Tournament in May.

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Rapid Reaction:

At first glance it appears Northwestern has the friendliest conference schedule of all six teams. The Cats have the easiest road schedule—they play Michigan and Rutgers. Those teams had a combined 13-22 record last season. NU has never lost to either of those teams.

The Cats will have their hands full with Maryland, who returns most of its starters including national player of the year Taylor Cummings. Maryland will likely be ranked No. 1 in the nation to start the year. The Cats will thus have a chance to again defeat the No. 1 team/defending champions while avenging a NCAA semi-final loss in their home opener. Last year NU beat the 2012-2013 champions, No. 1 North Carolina, to open regular season play at Lakeside Field.

Moreover, NU gets the luxury of hosting former ALC opponents PSU and OSU. The Cats went a combined 2-1 against those teams last season. Each game was decided by one goal. The home-field advantage will be especially important against the Buckeyes, who played the Cats tough twice last year coming away with an overtime victory in Columbus. NU edged Ohio State in the ALC tournament at Lakeside Field.

Jun 2, 2014

A week ago the Maryland Terrapins defeated Syracuse to win their 12th national championship and put an end to the 2013-2014 Division 1 women’s lacrosse season. Here is an overdue review of Northwestern’s campaign.

Feb. 4: Perhaps the best thing that happened to the Wildcats this year took place before their season started. Just five days before Northwestern opened its season against No. 8 Virginia, head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller signed a contract extension through the end of the 2021 season. Amonte Hiller owns a career coaching record of 229-40 and a postseason tally of 36-4.

Feb. 22: After sneaking past Virginia, the No. 4 Cats edged No. 5 Duke to open their season with a pair of hard-fought, one-goal victories over top-10 ranked teams.

March 9: The Cat’s blew a two-goal lead late in the second half to Notre Dame, who handed NU its first loss of the season. This game, and the Cats’ home opener were played indoors at Lake Barrington Field House due to inclement weather in Evanston.

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May 23, 2014

All Alyssa Leonard, Kerri Harrington and Kate Macdonald could do was sit and wait.  Sidelined simultaneously with yellow cards, the Northwestern senior leaders watched on as time ran out on their season and collegiate playing careers.

The No. 1 Maryland Terrapins (22-1) outlasted No. 5 Northwestern (14-7) 9-6 Friday night in Towson, Maryland to earn their fourth national championship berth in five years. Maryland will play Syracuse for the third time this season Sunday for the national championship.

As for Northwestern, its season ends just as it did last year, with a loss in the national semifinals.

“I’m very proud of the team this year,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said, her voice cracking with emotion. “Despite some setbacks I think this team accomplished a lot. It was one of the greatest groups I’ve had and they did a lot for this program. Congratulations to Maryland they deserved it.”

Maryland, the hometown favorite, led most of the game. All-American Kelly McPartland led all scorers with three goals.

Maryland won the edge in draw controls 10-7 thanks in large part to sophomore stud Taylor Cummings, who had four draws. Leonard had three draw controls, her lowest total in her last 11 games.

“We came up short in the draw area,” Leonard said. “They did a great job.”

Cummings, who is one of the five finalists for national player of the year, beat Harrington on a backdoor cut and scored the game’s first goal off a feed from Brooke Griffin three and a half minutes in.

The Cats won the draw control and elected to slow the pace and take their time offensively. But an ill-advised errant pass from Kara Mupo led to instant offense for the Terps who move the ball up the field in a blink of an eye. The Cats caught a break, however, when an apparent McPartland score was waved off due to a crease violation.

Minutes later the Cats got on the board. Leonard, shadowed closely by All-American defender Megan Douty, found a wide-open Jess Carroll across the middle for an easy score. Just 36 seconds later senior Christy Turner used a double move to dodge past her defender and net a goal for the 11th consecutive game.

After 10 minutes of play the Cats led 2-1. The lead lasted for seven more minutes and then disappeared for good.

Maryland began to ratchet up its defensive pressure, sending double teams after the ball. On one possession Northwestern moved the ball quickly enough to find an open Kat DeRonda, who failed to finish. But for the most part, Maryland’s pressure baffled NU, causing turnovers and bad shots.

With 12 and a half minutes remaining in the first half, Griffin again hooked up with McPartland, who used space from a Cummings screen to find the back of the net.

The Terps regained the lead three minutes later when Griffin got a step on her defender, Kate Ivory, and flipped one by Bridget Bianco from close range.

DeRonda had a great look saved in front of the cage, but other than that Northwestern did not have many chances offensively in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Bianco kept NU within reach with three gritty saves, including an incredible kick save on a bouncing bullet and a straight-on free position stop.

However, a Turner yellow card in the final two minutes of the half gave Maryland a crucial man-up chance. The Terps took advantage of the power play by swinging the ball across the fan to an open McPartland, who put Maryland up 4-2 with 1:33 left. The Terps weren’t done.

Cummings won the subsequent draw. Then Freshman Zoe Stukenberg converted a free position shot with just 29 seconds remaining to give the No. 1 seed a 5-2 advantage at the break. The Terps closed the half on a 4-0 run.

“In the first half we had some chances and we just didn’t capitalize on them,” Amonte Hiller said. “We still played a great half but we could have gained a little more momentum.”

Leonard brought the Cats within two with an 8-meter strike with 24:30 left in the second half. But senior Beth Glaros answered just over a minute later to make it 6-3.

Maryland then began to slow the pace down a little to burn some clock. After working the ball around the fan McPartland connected with Stukenberg, who scored from the doorstep.

McPartland then took the following draw control to the goal, finishing a diving scoop shot and beating two defenders in the process. Just like that Maryland had its largest lead of the game, 8-3 with 16 minutes left.

By this time Northwestern’s offense had become stagnant. NU did not take a shot for a span of 11 minutes. The Cats began to exhibit poor body language after every call that went against them. Amonte Hiller sensed some unraveling and called a timeout with about 12 minutes remaining.

The Cats came out of the timeout with more energy. They extended pressure on defense and were more aggressive on the offensive third.

Mupo, who has averaged a hat trick over the last month, was silent in the first half. But the redshirt junior gave the Cats some life at the 9:21 mark when she converted an off-balance rocket between two defenders to make the score 8-4.

“Maryland plays great team defense,” Amonte Hiller said. “But we needed to play a little bit more aggressive. Toward the end of the game when we had to play aggressive we had some pretty good looks and that’s the way you have to play all the time.”

McPartland quickly dissolved any Northwestern momentum when she waited for a double team, then blew past it to score.

Mupo drew a double team of her own next time down and found Kelly Rich over the middle to cut the deficit back to four with 6:41 left. Then Mupo scored from a nearly impossible angle parallel to the goal to pull the Cats within three with 4:13 left. But Maryland kept winning draws, making it difficult for NU to go on the run it needed.

The Cats scrambled to force turnovers but ended up getting the three aforementioned yellow cards in a span of two minutes, which killed any chance of a comeback. The Terps held the ball for the final four minutes until the buzzer sounded.

This is the beginning of a rivalry between women’s lacrosse’s winningest programs that will blossom next season in the new Big 10.

“It’s hard to think about next year today but we’ll have a continued great rivalry with [Maryland],” Amonte Hiller said.

To the casual Northwestern lacrosse fan, anything short of a national championship might seem unexceptional. But for this team, which had more losses than any Amonte Hiller squad in the last decade, a Final Four appearance was truly something to be proud of, especially for the team’s nine seniors.

“It was a big senior class,” Amonte Hiller said. “This senior class really bought into the tradition of Northwestern lacrosse and the culture we set forth right at the beginning. Despite the loss, that’s why I’m so proud of this team.”

May 23, 2014

No. 1 Maryland leads Northwestern 5-2 at halftime in the second of Friday’s two national semifinal games. Here are some stats and some quick reaction.

-       Jess Carroll and Christy Turner have NU’s only two scores. The Cats went scoreless in the final 20 minutes.

-       The slow pace favored NU early but Maryland started to extend pressure on defense with double teams and has sped the game up to its liking. The Terps scored the final four goals of the first half to take a somewhat comfortable lead into the break.

-       Alyssa Leonard is struggling to make an impact. All-American defender Megan Douty has faceguarded the NU senior on every offensive possession. Leonard did have one assist to Jess Carroll but Leonard’s only won two draw controls. Taylor Cummings has three draws and is outplaying Leonard. Douty’s making it tough, but Leonard needs to be more aggressive on offense to create more opportunities for her teammates.

-       The focus has been on Cummings, but it was attacker Brooke Griffin and midfielder Kelly McPartland who paced the Terps in the first 30 minutes. Griffin (1G,2A) played a part in each of Maryland’s first three goals. McPartland leads all scorers with two goals. (She could have four though, as two of her scores were nullified.)

-       Kerri Harrington has done a decent job on Cummings, who was held to just one goal. This needs to continue.

-       Bridget Bianco came up with some big saves to keep the Cats within striking distance. She’ll need to be fabulous in the second half.

-       Kara Mupo looked really shaky. She had two, and nearly three, ugly turnovers and hasn’t done much offensively. She needs to get going if NU has any chance of catching up and winning this one.

-       Kat DeRonda has also been silent. She and or Kate McDonald has to step up and create some offense.

-       The Cats played very solid defense on Maryland. It’s Northwestern’s offense that needs to kick in. Leonard has to win more draws and play with more aggression and Mupo and DeRonda need to play smarter and take better shots. This one’s far from over but NU has get going offensively to pull it out.

May 23, 2014

Last week, we were mourning the loss of regular Northwestern-Florida matchups, with the Wildcats leaving the ALC after this season. But tonight, we will get a taste of an already mature rivalry that will only get better next season. NU and its semifinal opponent, Maryland, will become conference rivals next season when they both join the new Big Ten lacrosse conference. If history is any indication, it’ll be a highlight game every year.

“It’s a really cool prelude with what’s to come in the Big 10 next year,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “Maryland’s not going anywhere. They’re an incredible program and I have a lot of respect for them.”

The two teams have met three times since 2010, all in the NCAA Tournament. Maryland edged the Cats in the Championship in 2010, then NU got revenge in the title game the next year. In 2012, the Cats knocked the Terrapins out in the semifinals. None of the games ended with more than a two-goal difference.

This is the first time Northwestern enters the game as the true underdog.

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Callie Counsellor
May 23, 2014

It’s Championship weekend! Check-out InsideNU’s last SportsNight of the year. Our Callie Counsellor joins Greg Mroz and former NU lax All-American Taylor Thornton to recap the momentous win against Florida and the upcoming semifinal match against Maryland. The lax clip starts at 7:00, but check out the whole episode for baseball highlights, softball news, and more.

Callie Counsellor
May 17, 2014

When it rains, it pours.

And if the rain were goals, it was certainly a flood for both Northwestern and Florida in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, but the Wildcats were able to stem the tide just slightly better and beat the Gators 12-11 in overtime. They will head to their 10th straight Final Four to take on No. 1 seed Maryland on Friday.

“We’re obviously very excited about the win,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “I think Florida is just such an unbelievable team. Obviously they’ve tested us greatly this season…I have a lot of respect for their players and their coaching staff. It just makes this win pretty special for us.”

Florida came into the game sporting a 28-game win streak at home. But the Northwestern fans showed up strong in Gainesville, especially in overtime.

Both of the previous two games between these teams this season were played in Evanston. Those also ended in one-goal wins, but Florida came out on top then.

In the one that mattered, it was NU celebrating on the opponent’s home field.

The goals came in bunches for both teams. Only twice did a team score just one goal. Let’s visualize:

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