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Lacrosse: Northwestern looks ahead to Stanford after second top-10 loss of the year

The Wildcats are now 3-2 to start 2020.

On Saturday, the ‘Cats had a shot at redemption with their second top-10 showdown of 2020.

The first had been against Notre Dame, and resulted in Northwestern’s first loss of the season; unfortunately, the weekend matchup against Syracuse went in the same direction, and it was the Orange getting redemption for NU beating them in last year’s NCAA quarterfinals as the ‘Cats added a second loss to their record.

Syracuse topped Northwestern 16-11 on Saturday night, moving them up three spots in the Inside Lacrosse poll to No. 4, while the ‘Cats dropped one spot to No. 7.

Emily Hawryschuk and Meaghan Tyrrell led the Orange offense with 6 and 5 goals, respectively. Hawryschuk also recorded two caused turnovers, four groundballs and three draw controls. As a team, Syracuse dominated offensively, totaling 10 more shots than Northwestern and picking up three additional ground balls.

What really cost the Amonte Hiller and co. on Saturday was the turnovers: they lost the ball a whopping 22 times during the game, eight more than Syracuse. This sloppiness is arguably what gave Syracuse more attacking opportunities, especially considering the ‘Cats beat out the Orange on the draw circle 16-14.

Northwestern’s offense was well-balanced with four different players (Gilbert, McKone, Hansen, Pinzone) scoring two goals apiece. Sophomore Izzy Scane, who is usually the star of the show for the ‘Cats, was quiet, with two turnovers and a ground ball. Ally Palermo led the defense with two caused turnovers, and Madison Doucette anchored the unit with 11 saves in her first career start. The sophomore had played in a pair of second halves so far this season and saved seven shots against Notre Dame, and her excellent performance in her first start only bodes well going forward.

This Sunday, March 1, Northwestern will have another chance to bounce back when they host unranked Stanford at Ryan Fieldhouse. This will be the first time the two teams have met since 2013. Northwestern leads in the all-time series between the two with nine wins to Stanford’s one.

The Cardinal are currently led by senior midfielder Mikaela Watson, who has 14 goals and two assists for 16 points this season. Last year, Watson recorded 36 goals and 14 assists total across 19 games, but if she stays on track with how she has performed so far, she might be able to almost double those numbers in 2020.

Not far behind her is junior attacker Ali Baiocco, who was the only member of the Cardinal named to the 2020 Tewaaraton Award watch list. Though she has not had the most explosive start to the season, with just eight goals so far, Baiocco is arguably the biggest offensive threat on this Stanford team. Last season, she led the squad and was second in the Pac-12 with 52 goals, and she led the Pac-12 in points with 80.

On the draw circle, the Cardinal seem to rely on three primary players: Genesis Lucero, Kyra Pelton and Jacie Lemos. They have 30, 20 and 13 draw controls each this season, respectively. But, as always, Brennan Dwyer, the ‘Cats’ main asset in the center, should be able to keep up just fine.

Following the game against Stanford, Northwestern will host top-ranked North Carolina at Ryan Fieldhouse on Monday, March 9.