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Lacrosse: ‘Cats prepare for top-10 showdown

Northwestern will face another No. 7, Syracuse this time, to try to earn their first marquee win of the season.

The Wildcats are set to host another tough matchup in Ryan Fieldhouse this weekend. No. 7 Northwestern will face No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in what may be an opportunity for redemption following NU’s loss to current #3 Notre Dame.

The Orange are bound to come out swinging considering the ‘Cats ended their season in the NCAA quarterfinals last year. And to make matters worse, this defeat came after Syracuse edged out Northwestern 15-14 (in OT) in the regular season. This game is the 20th matchup between these two teams, with the overall record being 14-5 ‘Cats.

Syracuse has seen a relatively easy schedule this season. With the exception of Stony Brook (who they lost to by 1), the Orange have blown out every team they have faced so far. Northwestern will be one of the first true tests they will face this year, which may prove to be an advantage for the ‘Cats as they already have experience playing against top-ranked teams this season.

Offensively, the Orange are lead by senior Emily Hawryschuk. She ranks first (!) in the nation with 21 goals so far this season and was named to the 2020 Tewaaraton Award Watch List. Last year, Hawryschuk was ninth in the nation with 75 goals and led the Orange in points (94) and draw controls (67). And Hawryschuk is not the only player NU should be worried about. Sophomore Megan Carney is not far behind her — she leads the team with eight assists and is second with 12 goals.

This Syracuse team boasts a pretty deep offense: this season, the Orange have had 15 different players score at least one goal and six different players score five or more goals. Luckily for the Wildcats, their defense has the experience needed to handle the Orange offense. As long as they are able to shut down their two main players, they should have no problem managing the rest of the unit either.

On top of that, the Northwestern offense is arguably much stronger than Syracuse’s. The ‘Cats have seen 20 different players score this season, and eight of those have five or more scores. The Orange defense is anchored by senior Ella Simkins and sophomore Sarah Cooper. Simkins leads the team with eight ground balls and four caused turnovers, while Cooper — who is on the 2020 Tewaaraton Award Watch List as well — has recorded four groundballs, three caused turnovers and four draw controls.

In the midfield, junior Morgan Widner leads Syracuse with 17 draw controls. Given this, and the fact that Brennan Dwyer has already totaled 43 DCs for the ‘Cats this season, Northwestern should have an advantage in the draw circle and be able to clock some decent possession time.

Next weekend, the ‘Cats will host Stanford in Ryan Fieldhouse. The teams will face off for the first time since 2013 on Sunday, March 1 at noon.