For a while, things looked dicey for the Wildcats. However, an emphatic 10-goal outburst in the second half propelled Northwestern lacrosse to a comfortable 14-7 win against Rutgers.
Northwestern (9-7) were down 5-4 at halftime in Piscataway, but an excellent, five-goal performance from Christina Esposito and tight second half defense sent Rutgers (8-7) into disarray.
The game started very poorly for Northwestern as Rutgers tallied three goals in the opening five minutes. Northwestern’s defense looked ragged and the offense did not score until Catie Ingrilli laced home a free position shot to make it 3-1. That goal was immediately answered by Rutgers’ Kerri Puckhaber, and it looked like Northwestern was in for another inconsistent showing.
However, Rutgers’ was unable to execute on offense and hold its early advantage while the Wildcats fought back. Nicole Beardsely scored to make it a 4-3 and the team’s traded goals before the half to make it 5-4 at the interval. Esposito hit the post with 25 seconds remaining to deny a chance at a tie, but the momentum had shifted to the road team.
The second half was a defensive catastrophe for Rutgers, who allowed 15 shots on goal and 6 free position shots. Northwestern took advantage of 9 second-half turnovers and cashed in repeatedly. The first Rutgers turnover of the half led to a game-tying goal from Shelby Fredericks, and then Nesselbush found the net three minutes later to make it 6-5.
Another Rutgers turnover led to a goal from Lindsey McKone, putting the Wildcats up 7-5. Rutgers answered to make it 6-5, but Northwestern went on a 4-0 run inside of four minutes with two goals from Ingrilli and goals from Beardsley and Esposito. The three combined for 10 of Northwestern’s 14 goals on the afternoon, and this huge run essentially ended the game.
Northwestern continued to obliterate Rutgers, scoring another four unanswered goals before the end of the game to put the result beyond any doubt. The game ended 14-7, putting Northwestern two vital games over .500 with a game against No. 1 Maryland in Evanston next week.
That game will be played in Martin Stadium on the lakefill on April 27 at 7 p.m. You should go! It will be entertaining, for sure.