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Lacrosse: Northwestern loses 13-12 against U.S. U-20 Team in fall scrimmage, soundly beats Canada 16-7

This match may not matter in the long run, but it still gave some good insight into where the team is currently at.

Northwestern Athletics

Northwestern Lacrosse traveled to Sparks, Maryland for the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic, where it took on the Canadian and USA U-20 women’s national training teams in pouring rain last Saturday. While the defending NCAA champions beat Canada 16-7, they lost to Team USA 13-12.

Team USA was led by Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller, while her husband, Northwestern assistant Scott Hiller, headed the Wildcats. In addition, Northwestern sophomores Madison Taylor and Francesca Argentieri and freshman Madison Smith were playing on Team USA.

Though these Fall Classic games were just scrimmages, they still gave fans an early look at what the 2023-24 Northwestern squad could look like, as well as which U-20 players will stand out next spring.

The two matchups adhered to World Lacrosse rules and not NCAA rules, so there were a few notable changes in play, such as the absence of a shot clock and 11-meter free position shots rather than eight-meter ones.

vs. Team USA Recap

It could have been the rain, the fatigue after the Canada game or the fact that their own head coach was actively plotting against them, but the Wildcats were outmatched in momentum by Team USA for most of the game.

UNC freshman Chloe Humphrey,’s No. 1 recruit for the Class of 2023, was a pivotal part of Team USA’s success, tallying five goals and an assist. Taylor also put up a great performance, scoring a hat trick against her own college team. For Northwestern, sixth-year Izzy Scane and fifth-year Dylan Amonte led the way with four goals apiece, while junior Samantha Smith put up three. Fifth-year Erin Coykendall also nabbed three assists before coming off the field early in the fourth quarter due to an injury when fouled by Team USA’s Lydia Colasante, a freshman at Boston College.

Northwestern won the first draw, but a turnover gave Team USA an offensive opportunity and Humphrey scored unassisted less than a minute in. Scane fired back with an unassisted goal of her own two minutes later, but it was clear from the get-go that Team USA was in control of the first quarter. It outscored the Wildcats 5-2, out-shot them 11-2, and it seemed to run just straight through Northwestern’s defense. Smith did score for NU when it was a player up, but the Wildcats’ momentum was killed just ten seconds later when BC sophomore Shea Baker tallied another goal for Team USA.

The second quarter was a whole other story. Scane and Amonte alone put up six unanswered goals for the ‘Cats, giving their team an 8-5 lead at the half. Amonte scored early, and then eight minutes later, Coykendall capitalized on a rare moment where Scane was open (she was double or triple-teamed for the majority of the game), passing the ball to the Tewaaraton winner for another goal. Scane’s next goal was arguably her most impressive of the game, as she beat Team USA’s Eliza Osburn (a 2024 UNC commit) in a one-on-one to find the back of the net.

Next, Amonte scored three consecutive goals within a span of a minute and 47 seconds. Her third goal was assisted by fifth-year Mary Schumar, a grad transfer from Marquette, who tallied her first points in a Northwestern uniform. Overall, Northwestern dominated possession in the second quarter. The closest Team USA came to scoring was with around nine minutes left in the quarter, when JMU freshman Madison Epke’s attempt was thwarted by Northwestern’s sixth-year goalie Molly Laliberty.

After halftime, Team USA came back, outscoring the Wildcats 5-1 and outshooting them 9-3. UVA freshman Kate Denmark forced a turnover on Coykendall immediately after Northwestern’s draw control, which led to Humphrey finding the back of the net again. Humphrey was in action just two minutes later, assisting an Epke goal. Northwestern junior Emerson Bohlig scored the Wildcats’ only goal of the third quarter afterward, but it was followed by two more Team USA goals from Humphrey and another from Taylor.

Laliberty made three critical saves in the third quarter (more saves than in any other quarter) to prevent additional bleeding, but Team USA still kept on shooting and scoring to finish the quarter with a 10-9 lead.

Both teams scored three goals in the fourth quarter, but Northwestern underperformed in several key moments. Smith scored on the Wildcats’ first possession (which is also when Coykendall went down) to tie the game, but Northwestern’s next two shots were saved by Argentieri. The Wildcats then proceeded to lose the ball twice, with the second time leading to Humphrey scoring again to put Team USA ahead.

Northwestern got its lead back after goals from Smith and Scane and had been leading with three minutes left, but Colasante intercepted a pass from NU sophomore Claire Snyder and helped bring the ball down to the other side of the field for Team USA to tie things up. During the next play, Epke forced the ball out of Smith’s stick to give Team USA possession, and a yellow card given to Northwestern senior Kendall Halpern allowed Team USA to score the game-winning goal off a free-position with a player up.

Team USA earned the final draw control of the game, hindering all hopes of a Northwestern comeback.

Statistically, Northwestern and Team USA were relatively even. Team USA outnumbered Northwestern in shots (29-26), ground balls (15-12) and caused turnovers (15-12), but NU was slightly better on the draw (15-14).

In goal, Laliberty made eight saves, led Northwestern with six ground balls and also had one caused turnover. Boston College sophomore Shea Dolce was in goal for Team USA in the first half, while Argentieri played in the second half. Argentieri saved an impressive four out of eight shots on goal, which is good news for the Wildcats down the road.

Northwestern has a lot of things to improve on from this game, but it shouldn’t be a cause for too much concern. It’s still very early on in the year and the season doesn’t start for another four months, so the team will have plenty of time to clean up. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the Wildcats will get their actual head coach and several of its players back for the real games. However, NU should take note of the several young stars that excelled on Saturday (Humphrey and Epke to name a few), as they will be threats come spring.

vs. Canada Recap

This match against Canada, which ended approximately 90 minutes before the start of the Team USA game, was a lot more lopsided. The Wildcats were playing a team that had lost to Team USA 16-9 the night before, and stars like Scane, Schumar, Amonte and Coykendall didn’t play the majority of the game. In addition, Laliberty was benched after 22 minutes in goal (though she still made five saves) for sophomore Cara Nugent.

Without the team’s major heavyweights, it was senior Hannah Johnson who stepped up for Northwestern, recording four goals and an assist. Johnson notably missed the entirety of last season, and her comeback this season will be an interesting storyline to follow.

Northwestern was tied with Canada 6-6 headed into halftime, but then Scane and Coykendall came in during the third quarter to help give Northwestern the lead. They both scored two highlight-reel-worthy goals apiece, with one of them being a behind-the-back assist from Coykendall that led to a Scane goal.

The Wildcats outscored Canada 10-1 in the second half, which was a big part of their 16-7 victory. Bohlig, sophomore Lucy Munro and freshman Noel Cumberland all scored two goals.

Overall, this game was a good opportunity for some of Northwestern’s subs to get some playing time and gain more experience before the season.