Northwestern lacrosse had no business winning tonight. The Wildcats were down 7-0 and 9-3 in a sport where late leads are especially hard to overcome. But overcome those leads is exactly what NU did.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they are the Evil Empire of women’s lacrosse and they flexed their muscles late in the game. They trailed 11-8 with under 10 minutes to play, but led by two Kara Mupo goals (she finished with a game-high five), the Wildcats rattled in three unanswered goals to tie the game at 11 with just 35 seconds to go. In overtime, the Wildcats got a game winner from freshman Selena Lasota, her fourth of the contest, and held on for dear life to close it out, 12-11.
Don’t expect Northwestern to come out and smoke teams straight out of the gate the way that they’ve done in the last few years. The loss of Alyssa Leonard is going to continue to be a tough one to swallow. Leonard, the all-time leader in NCAA history in draw controls, was a key to Northwestern’s possession style game. Northwestern would go up early, then win draw controls and dictate the action.
Today, USC won the draw control battle fairly decisively, 16-11. Northwestern will have to continue to adjust to the loss of the draw control extraordinaire.
One thing Northwestern maybe won’t have to worry about is their attack. Kat Deronda’s 35 goals and Leonard’s 41 are gone, but Northwestern had some freshman contribute in huge ways against USC. Half of Northwestern’s 12 goals came from first-year players. Shelby Fredericks, the fourth-rated recruit nationally by Lacrosse Magazine, scored two goals and Selena Lasota, ranked third, netted four to go along with a pair of assists. Northwestern’s No. 1 overall recruiting class introduced themselves awfully well on the road.
USC won’t be the stiffest test NU will have, but a West Coast trip is never easy. Up next for Northwestern will be No. 6 Virginia. The Cavaliers will be a much tougher test, but if the freshmen continue to pile up points, NU could compete with just about anyone.