Despite a postponement of the series last weekend, No. 3 Northwestern (5-0, 5-0 B1G) returned to its home turf to match up against undefeated No. 5/7 Penn State (2-2, 2-2 B1G), their first ranked opponent of the conference-only season. After two authoritative 24-13 and 17-13 wins on Thursday and Saturday, the ‘Cats remained undefeated at 5-0.
After not playing since February 28, the ‘Cats showed no signs of slowing down in their first game of the weekend. Eight players recorded goals, with senior Lauren Gilbert having a career-high seven goals and a team-high seven draw controls. Sophomore Erin Coykendall added three, her career-high, and now leads the team in assists with nine. Junior and previous Big Ten Offensive Player of the week (February 28 and March 2) Izzy Scane also tallied five goals and two assists.
On the defensive end, Northwestern was just as aggressive. Junior goalkeeper Madison Doucette tied her career-high with 11 saves. Senior Jill Girardi also had a career-best five draws at the circle.
Despite Penn State coming within two, the ‘Cats were able to finish with a 24-13 win, bringing their win streak to four and handing the Nittany Lions their first loss of the season.
Both teams returned to the Ryan Fieldhouse on Saturday for the second matchup. Gilbert once again led the ‘Cats in goals with six. Her weekend effort of 13 goals granted her Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, Northwestern’s third time earning the honor this season.
While Penn State was able to cut the Northwestern lead in half, graduate student Sammy Mueller made a free-position shot that sealed the game after the ‘Cats made a final offensive run. Defensively, senior Ally Palermo had four ground balls and unior Allie Berkeley caused three possession turnovers that allowed Northwestern lacrosse to have yet another dominant win.
The ‘Cats will match up against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, New Jersey this coming weekend.