A long, dramatic season for Northwestern lacrosse ended in disappointment as the Wildcats lost 13-9 to the No. 8-seeded Stony Brook Seawolves. Northwestern (11-10) lost in the second round for the second consecutive year. Stony Brook (20-1) limited Northwestern’s offense and a critical second half surge ensured them a victory at their home field.
Northwestern started promisingly. Despite conceding the first goal to Taryn Ohlmiller, Danita Stroup and defender-turned-attacker Claire Quinn both scored to put the Wildcats up 2-1. Stony Brook’s Kylie Ohlmiller and Northwestern’s Nicole Beardsley then traded goals. All of this occurred in a frantic first seven minutes of the game.
Megan Kinna’s goal 15 minutes in the first half put Northwestern up 5-3, the Wildcats’ largest lead of the game. Stony Brook pegged Northwestern back with three unanswered goals to make it 6-5. Northwestern’s familiar pattern of offensive inconsistency reared its head at the worst possible time. Catie Ingrilli equalied just before halftime, but Northwestern was in trouble after blowing the early lead.
Nicole Beardsley scored her 19th goal of the season to make it 7-6 Northwestern, but Stony Brook won the ensuing draw control and Kylie Ohlmiller immediately leveled proceedings. Another Stony Brook draw control led to a goal from Samantha Disalvo, then Ally Kennedy scored to make it 9-7 for Stony Brook. Catie Ingrilli pulled one back but another 3-0 Stony Brook run made it 12-9 and the game was essentially over. Northwestern scored just one goal in the final 18 minutes of the game.
It was a convincing win for Stony Brook, its second victory over Northwestern this season. The Wildcats were outshot 25-to-18, lost 13-of-24 draw controls and were minus-7 in the turnover battle. If not for 9 saves from Northwestern goalkeeper Mallory Weisse, the game could have been much worse.
With that, the focus turns to next year for Northwestern. Superstar attcker Selena Lasota should return, but the team will lose Christina Esposito, Catie Ingrilli and Danita Stroup, three seniors who stepped up and played huge roles in this year’s squad. In Lasota’s absence, the three all became dangerous attackers in their own right, and Northwestern will need Liza Elder, Nicole Beardsley and Shelby Fredericks to take a step forward next year.
On the defensive side, Northwestern is set at goalkeeper with current sophomore Mallory Weisse and defensive ace Claire Quinn (who can score goals now?!). They need to develop players around them, but as long as those two are there, Northwestern can stay in games. The team’s 11-10 record was dependent on a number of very close losses to USC, Colorado, and Syracuse. And yes, there were also some terrible blowout losses to good teams, but Northwestern had the talent to topple then-No. 5 Penn State and defeat a solid Notre Dame team in the beginning of the year. There is some potential in this team, but it needs to be harnessed on a consistent, minute-by-minute basis on both ends.
Northwestern needs to bring that high level every game next year. We shall see whether Kelly Amonte Hiller can make that happen and return to the glory days of the mid-2000s. But with programs like Maryland and UNC at the top of the mountain, it’s going to be a difficult test.