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Lacrosse: Wildcats grind out a home win over 8th-ranked Michigan

On Senior Day, in front of a national TV audience, the Wildcats got the job done.

Northwestern Lacrosse

It was chilly and gray at Martin Stadium on Thursday afternoon, but Northwestern (10-4, 4-1 B1G) weathered the elements and a stiff Michigan defense to earn a 14-11 victory. It was their first of the year over a current top-ten team. Selena Lasota paced the sixth-ranked Wildcats with four goals, Mallory Weisse had 11 saves, and Northwestern surged down the stretch to take down the Wolverines (14-2, 4-2).

The game started relatively quickly. A quick 3-0 run for the Wildcats gave them an early 3-1 lead, though Michigan fought back to tie it at three just over eight minutes in. But immediately thereafter things slowed down. Neither team scored for nearly 14 minutes, and the game went into the half tied at five.

The Wildcats had as many shots (11) as turnovers in the first thirty minutes, squandering an advantage in the draw circle with sloppy transition and offensive play.

Coming out of halftime, the game moved a bit more quickly. Sophomore attacker Lauren Gilbert assisted Lindsey McKone with a nice dish at the doorstep before scoring a goal of her own, giving Northwestern a 7-5 advantage. Michigan quickly hit back, embarking on an extended 5-1 run that featured a pair of impressive, nearly identical goals from Caitlin Muir, their points leader.

Once the Wolverines extended their lead to 10-8 with just over 12 minutes left, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller called a timeout. That quick reset was all the Wildcats needed. First, Selena Lasota gave Gilbert her third straight goal with a SportsCenter top ten-level assist (in fact, it was number nine on the countdown!):

From there, the tide had officially turned. Michigan had the upper hand for most of the game, even holding a 13 shot advantage at one point. But Weisse, the senior goalkeeper making her second straight start in place of Julie Krupnick, and the rest of the Wildcat defense held the Wolverines off long enough to eventually shift the momentum.

Izzy Scane, owner of five straight Big Ten freshman of the week awards, tied things at ten with her second goal of the contest. Then, with just under seven minutes to go, Lasota struck. The fifth-year senior, who passed her own head coach to reach the top five in Big Ten history in overall points earlier in the day, broke the Northwestern career goals scored record (she is up to 320 and 256 respectively for her career), giving the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish.

Megan Kinna and Emily Stein each tallied to close out the 5-0 burst and give Northwestern the largest lead of the day for either side. Both teams scored meaningless goals with the game pretty much out of reach, making the final score 14-11. It was only the second time all year that the Wolverines allowed more than 11 goals (undefeated, second-ranked Maryland beat them 14-3).

Muir led the way for Michigan with a hat trick and two assists, while Maggie Kane added two goals of her own. For the Wildcats, Gilbert matched Muir’s output, but did it exclusively in the second half. Draw control specialist Brennan Dwyer led the Wildcats to a 17-10 advantage in the circle, garnering ten of them on her own.

The win essentially locked up second place behind Maryland in the Big Ten for Northwestern, who has just one conference game left against B1G bottom-dwellers Ohio State.

Next, the Wildcats travel to South Bend on Saturday to take on #4 Notre Dame and try to earn their first win of the season against a top-five team (they lost to each of the other four earlier in the year).