After splitting opening weekend with a loss against No. 1 Boston College and a win over Marquette, Northwestern Lacrosse went on to win its next two in close fashion.
After dropping to No. 6 in the polls, the ‘Cats faced the Arizona State Sun Devils at Ryan Fieldhouse, where they also celebrated Alumni Weekend and their 2021 Big Ten Championship.
It was a back-and-forth matchup for the two teams to begin, and both struggled with foul calls across the board, resulting in leading scorer Lauren Gilbert fouling out before the second half began. This set the stage for Northwestern’s oBrennan Dwyer, who usually shows her dominance on the field in the draw circle.
Dwyer detonated for a career-high five goals, and the fourth quarter outburst for the ‘Cats was too much for the Sun Devils to contain despite hanging close early on, resulting in a 16-8 score in favor of NU.
Freshman Samantha Smith tallied two goals, an assist and four draw controls against ASU, garnering her Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
Sophomore Hannah Johnson added four goals, while Junior Erin Coykendall chipped in two. On the defensive end, Senior Goalkeeper Madison Doucette had nine saves on the day, seven of which came in the first half. Northwestern outscored Arizona State in the draw circle, 16-12, with five coming from another Freshman in Samantha White.
On Wednesday evening, Northwestern traveled to South Bend for a top-25 matchup. No. 17 Notre Dame was reeling coming off two straight losses, but still posed a formidable threat to the ‘Cats.
The Irish came out hot with a 2-0 run, but Northwestern soon took over with a 5-0 run of its own, and NU entered the half up 9-7. Graduate Student Jill Girardi was back on the draw circle for the ‘Cats, making her first appearance since the season opener against Boston College. She finished with eight draw controls, while Gilbert added three of her own.
After the break, Gilbert went on a 3-goal run to bring the score to 12-9, but Notre Dame’s duo of Kasey Choma and Jackie Wolak traded goals to cut the lead to two in the third quarter.
Gilbert tallied seven goals in total, tying her career-high, but late in the fourth quarter the Irish went on a 4-0 run to bring the game within one, but a clutch, unassisted goal from Northwestern’s Johnson made it 17-15 in favor of the home team with just under three minutes left in the game.
Notre Dame tallied a last-ditch goal with 17 seconds left to bring the final score to 17-16. Goalkeeper Doucette tallied six saves in total, while the Notre Dame’s Goalkeeper Bridget Deehan had 10 in the loss.
The Wildcats were able to pull out a close one in South Bend, but their schedule won’t get any easier as they face No. 3 Syracuse at home on Tuesday — the team who ended their 2021 season in the NCAA Semifinals. They’ll then travel to Chapel Hill to take on another member of the 2021 Final Four in the Tar Heels before returning home to face Stony Brook.