On a cold Sunday afternoon in Evanston, it was a hotly contested battle between two top-10 teams, No. 7 Northwestern and No. 5 Syracuse. Northwestern took a two goal lead into halftime after a high scoring first half, and held on late for an 11-10 win.
This was the first of three straight games against top-10 foes for Northwestern. The Wildcats had two weeks to prepare for this game and it showed in their crisp passing and good ball movement. Senior leader Kara Mupo had herself a game, scoring five goals, including four in the first half. Her final goal of the first half occurred while she got rocked by a major hit from a Syracuse player, but was still able to convert.
While Mupo scored almost half the team's goals, freshman Selena Lasota almost scored the other half, finishing with four goals herself. She exactly equaled her per-game average, which is good for third best in the country. Only a freshman, fans in Evanston should have a fun time watching her grow as a player, and if she keeps up this pace, she could go down as one of Northwestern's all-time greats.
Lasota's strength and accurate finishing were on display Sunday as multiple times she bullied her way towards the goal before finding one of the corners of the goal. She played box lacrosse in high school and out here on the more open field, she uses that experience to find little pockets of space to exploit.
Despite a somewhat shaky first half from Bridget Bianco, she still managed ten saves, giving her three straight double digit save games. In her previous two, she had 13 saves in each. Syracuse scored one of their goals in the first half after Bianco was forced to come out of her crease and the Orange players passed around her for an easy goal. She was able to withstand the pressure late though with some key saves to preserve Northwestern's slim lead.
Hopefully the team took advantage of their two week break leading up to this game to prepare for this week of games where they'll certainly have to run the gauntlet: after today's game against No. 5 Syracuse, the Wildcats have undisputed No. 1 Maryland coming to town on Thursday before playing No. 10 Louisville a week from today. That game will also take place at Lakeside Field in Evanston. The team certainly looked well-prepared for today's game and one hopes they took advantage of this extra time off to also prepare for their next few opponents.