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Lacrosse: thrilling individual performances lead ‘Cats to a perfect 4-0 conference start

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The Lakeshow was on full display Thursday night at Ryan Fieldhouse.

Though it may not have stepped foot in Martin Stadium just yet this year, The Lakeshow has done nothing but show it is a force to be reckoned with in its past few contests.

Last weekend, the No. 3 Northwestern women’s lacrosse team flew to the east cost where it faced conference foe Penn State and non-conference opponent University of Pennsylvania.

In both games, the Wildcats held their opponents to single-digit scores—the Nittany Lions scored six goals and the Quakers scored nine in their respective matchups, while Northwestern notched 17 in each.

Friday’s matchup in State College featured junior Erin Coykendall and graduate student Jill Girardi putting up five goals each, with graduate student Lauren Gilbert adding three of her own. Girardi was once again a force to be reckoned with on draw controls: she had 13 to Penn State’s three. Senior goalkeeper Madison Doucette tallied nine saves on 15 shots as the ‘Cats held the Nittany Lions to a season-low six goals.

After making the trip over to Philadelphia to face UPenn, Girardi and Gilbert once again led the team, this time with four goals each. Coykendall and sophomore attacker Leah Holmes chipped in two each, while senior Greta Stahl earned her first score of the season.

These two weekend wins resulted in another batch of Big Ten honors for Girardi as well as freshman Sammy White. Girardi won her second straight and fifth overall Midfielder of the Week award, and White earned her second straight Freshman of the Week award after tallying five ground balls and three draw controls through the two-game stretch.

The ‘Cats returned home to face No. 15 Rutgers on Thursday night. Northwestern jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to Girardi and Gilbert. The rest of the night belonged to Gilbert, though, as she scored a first-quarter hat trick, surpassed the 50 goals on the season and earned a new career high of eight goals in a game.

In addition, sophomore Kendall Halpern tallied her first goal of the season on her introduction into the attack. Heading into the second half, the Scarlet Knights were able to cut Northwestern’s lead to one, but the ‘Cats’ offense was just too strong. Girardi followed Gilbert with four goals and a new career high in draw controls with 19.

Girardi’s individual draw control record is second best in program history, only superseded by her teammate Brennan Dwyer’s 21 in 2020 against Arizona State.

It is quite rare to have a player who is able to score as well as Girardi does in addition to winning so many draw controls. She now leads the Big Ten in draw controls with 119 and is top five in the nation.

Overall, the offensive depth within this team is simply astounding: through the three game stretch, over twelve individual Wildcats posted goals, and every player who steps foot on the field has been able to contribute in so many ways, from draw controls to ground balls to assists.

The ‘Cats will face San Diego State on Sunday before meeting their final two regular season matchups in conference opponents Johns Hopkins and Maryland next week.