Northwestern opened up their 2019 season by coasting past Louisville 21-11 at Ryan Fieldhouse on Friday night. Senior Selena Lasota led the seventh-ranked Wildcats with five goals and one assist, while sophomore Brennan Dwyer’s strong performance on face-offs gave the Wildcats a leg up on the Cardinals.
There were some pregame questions Northwestern would start in net, with Kelly Amonte Hiller refusing to name a starter, the choice being between all Big-Ten goalie Julie Krupnick and talented freshman Madison Doucette. The Wildcats eventually opted for experience, with Julie Krupnick starting in net but both Doucette and senior Mallory Weisse saw action later in the game.
The Wildcats got off to a hot start with freshman Izzy Scane scoring on the first shot of both her career and the game, only 12 seconds in. The Wildcats offense thrived in transitions early, capitalizing off of breaks to counter attack to extend their lead. Northwestern jumped out to a 3-1 converting off two fast breaks before Louisville converted on a cross-net pass cutting the Wildcat lead to one.
The Wildcats proceeded to balloon their lead by scoring nine unanswered goals extending the lead to 12-2 near the halfway point in the first half. The Wildcats dominated possession after settling in, running and converting on sets consistently and outshooting the Cardinals 23-9 in the first half. At halftime, the Wildcats had a 15-4 lead.
Northwestern entered the season with questions about who would take draw controls because of the loss of graduate Shelby Fredricks. Sophomore Brennan Dwyer took the majority of the draw controls for the Wildcats against Louisville, winning 12-of-19 opportunities. Dwyer also contributed two goals and one assist.
In the second half, the Wildcats once again came out firing, scoring five out of the first seven goals of the half, before a nearly 15 minute scoreless stretch. Late in the game, the Wildcats took out many starters, only to return them when the Wildcats had a player advantage.
Coach Amonte Hiller pinned the late game goal drought on a combination of factors.
“It starts with draw controls, I think we didn’t get some draws towards the end of the game there,” she said. “I think we were just rushing it a little bit on the offensive end and then defensively we weren’t able to come up with stops. I think it was a combination of everything, it wasn’t based on one thing or another, we just have to rally together as a team, and really close out and finish strong.”
The Wildcats held Louisville scoreless over the game’s final five minutes. NU is back in action Friday, when it hosts Dartmouth at Ryan Fieldhouse.