Third-ranked Northwestern Wildcat women’s lacrosse (2-0) opened the season on fire this past weekend, taking down Detroit Mercy 30-3 (a program record for goals scored in a game) and 20th-ranked Duke 24-20.
Going into the season, there were questions of who could make up for lost goal production after Big Ten Attacker of the Year and Tewaaraton Award Finalist Selena Lasota graduated. The Wildcats had no trouble putting up goals this past weekend, though. Senior attacker Lindsey McKone led the team with seven goals, tying for the most scores against Duke along with Izzy Scane (five) and leading the team in points in the contest (seven).
Here are some overall takeaways from the first weekend of games:
This team won’t struggle to score
I don’t put much stock in the blowout win over Detroit Mercy, no matter how impressive the numbers looked (though it’s nice to start the season with confidence). With that being said, the Wildcats graduated three attacking options who received significant playing time in Selena Lasota, Emily Stein, and Claire Quinn last season, and this weekend the offense looked as potent as ever. Maybe even more so!
The trio of attackers put up 120 goals for the Wildcats in 2019 (including Lasota putting up 85 herself). Overall, last year’s squad scored 366 times on their run to the Big Ten Championship and national semifinals, with slightly under 1⁄3 of them coming from the departed group.
But former Big Ten Freshman of the Year Izzy Scane is expected to shine once again this year, and the sophomore has gotten off to a quick start, scoring nine goals between the first two games. The combination of McKone and junior Lauren Gilbert will provide key experience and plenty of talent up front, and the depth of this group of attackers is already on display. Bottom line: despite the losses, this offense is clearly ready for prime time.
Fast starts and immediate impacts
Against Duke, Northwestern jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and never looked back. Against Detroit Mercy, the Wildcats began the game scoring five unanswered, before conceding and going on a 15 goal unanswered stretch for the rest of the first half. NU parried away Duke’s attempted first half runs, maintaining a six goal lead at halftime, and held strong all the way down the stretch until a late, meaningless run made the final score closer than the game truly was.
Amidst all this, the Wildcat freshman class made their presence felt. Dylan Amonte, Jane Hansen, Erin Coykendall, Hunter Chadwick, Kiera Shanley, and Eve Hritzuk each scored their first goal this weekend. Hansen tallied twice against Duke, and looks to be the front-runner for a first-year breakout this season, matching her high school hype.
Defensive experience will be critical
The Wildcats looked incredibly solid defensively for most of their opening weekend before slipping in the final minutes against Duke. Northwestern returns their starting goalie in Julie Krupnick and three starting defenders, with senior Ivy Arlia stepping up to take on the final starting spot on the back line.
Teaming up with Kate and Carson Copeland and All-Big Ten player Ally Palermo, Arlia will be a crucial piece for a defense that will likely be the biggest potential weakness for the national contender ‘Cats.
While the expectations for this team are high, they met (and exceeded) the bar in their first two contests. The upcoming weekend will bring a new level of toughness to test this defense’s ability to sustain pressure, one they should be expected to meet in order for their championship aspirations to come to bear.
The Wildcats will host seventh-ranked Notre Dame on Friday at 7pm CT before staying on Evanston for a noon Sunday tilt with Arizona State.