At last, nearly two weeks after their most recent game (which happened to be the Big Ten Championship game), the No. 2 overall seed Northwestern Women’s Lacrosse team will take on the University of Denver Pioneers in the round of 16 today at noon CT on ESPN3 and live from Martin Stadium on the Evanston campus.
Denver beat Stanford on Friday in a closely-contested match, emerging victorious by a score of 15-13. It will be interesting to see if the Pioneers can keep up with the high-powered goal scoring Northwestern has produced consistently throughout this season. Whereas Denver has only had one game this season in which they scored 20 or more goals, Northwestern has had eight.
The Big East Champion Pioneers will be a gritty opponent to face — they have lost only one game all season and have posted great defensive numbers, picking up 10 ground balls on Friday and five saves on goal.
Denver’s main players to watch offensively are Bea Behrins and Eliza Radochonski. Those two combined have 98 of Denver’s 251 total goals this season. Defensively they offer something too, as Behrins and Radochonksi have collected 19 and 15 ground balls in 2021, respectively. Similarly, Molly Little has a staggering 55 won draw controls on the season.
Northwestern’s two leading scorers — Izzy Scane and Lauren Gilbert — have 81 and 56 goals, respectively, combining for 137 of the 268 the ‘Cats have recorded this year. Scane was also recently named as one the top 5 finalists for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award, and is on pace to break Northwestern’s scoring record and will likely record her 100th point during the match.
Northwestern currently has the top-performing offense in the nation, averaging the most goals per game at 20.62, and the most draw controls per game at a staggering 19.31.
The ‘Cats have had ample rest allowed by a first-round bye, and tomorrow’s game should be one to watch. Their last matchup with the Pioneers came in 2009, when the ‘Cats hammered Denver by a score of 24-6, and went on to win a national title later that season. Now, they have their sights set on their 8th title in program history, with the Pioneers being the first of four potential obstacles standing in their way.