The Northwestern women’s lacrosse team is looking to win another Big 10 Tournament. As one of the best teams in the country, it seems no opponent can stop the Wildcats.
Ahead of their last regular season game against Maryland, the Wildcats are 14-1 and have clinched a share of the Big 10 regular season champions title. As they gear up for conference play, there are a few schools that could potentially threaten their almost-perfect season and knock the Lake Show out of the conference tournament.
No. 12 Maryland (12-4, 4-1 B1G)
The Terps are a household name and have been for over a decade. They are the biggest threat to the Wildcats this season.
The offense is anchored by senior Libby May. She can shoot and dodge from almost anywhere on the arc. Junior Eloise Clevenger is the quarterback behind the cage feeding the ball effectively through the sticks of defenders. Maryland hasn’t played Northwestern yet this season, so the picture will be more clear after their meeting on Saturday.
What Northwestern will need to watch out for (both in their final game and again in the playoff stretch) is the Maryland defense. While a younger and less experienced group of players, the defense has been able to gel nicely together throughout the season. The Terps are able to slide well and pressure the ball even better in an attempt to cause turnovers. Their defensive star is Abby Bosco who is No. 16 in the nation for caused turnovers per game. They are also 12th in the country for draw controls. The Terps could oust the Lake Show if they do everything perfectly, use every second on their possessions, and force key turnovers. Taking care of the ball is crucial for Northwestern.
No. 20 Penn State (11-4, 3-2 B1G)
The Nittany Lions have flown under the radar not only in the conference but in the entire country. They just upset Maryland last week with a 12-7 victory and lost earlier this season to Northwestern 19-9. Penn State boasts arguably the most physical defense in all of the conference. When it faced off against Northwestern, there were 55 fouls and a total of nine cards assessed. Northwestern can handle that pressure, but for the Nittany Lions to win, they need to be aggressive but conscious of fouls and cards to avoid a man-down situation.
No. 22 Johns Hopkins (7-7, 3-2 B1G)
Aside from Northwestern, the scores between John Hopkins and the rest of the teams in the Big 10 have always been close. When the Blue Jays played the Wildcats, they lost 19-5. Their only other Big Ten loss came from Maryland by one goal. John Hopkins’ biggest strength is scoring, even if it puts up low numbers on Northwestern. The Blue Jays are 37th in the nation in points per game, and their star shooter is freshman Ava Angello with 26 goals. Two other players have passed the 20-goal mark, and a few more still could.
The Blue Jays struggle the most with turning over the ball. If Northwestern rides effectively and applies pressure, they will cough up the ball, and the Wildcats will be going the other way. Johns Hopkins must be careful to protect the ball and not rush its play.
Even against some of the best teams in the country, Northwestern is like no other. The Wildcats are solid on all aspects of the field, and even if they find themselves behind, there is no reason to panic. The tournament begins on April 29, when Northwestern will hope to begin the journey to its third Big Ten Title.