It’s Izzy Scane’s world, and we’re all living in it.
The Tewaaraton award leader further strengthened her case Thursday, scoring seven goals en route to a resounding 16-6 Northwestern win. The ‘Cats led wire-to-wire, with the lead ballooning to as much as 12 mid-way through the final quarter, as Scane outscored the Greyhounds herself.
The Wildcats now advance to their fourth straight Final Four, where they’ll face off against Denver. The No. 5-seeded Pioneers eliminated the reigning national champion Tar Heels earlier on Thursday, putting an end to a possible Northwestern-North Carolina rematch from last year’s Final Four.
Scane either scored or assisted on 10 of the team’s 16 goals, and her seven goals contributed to her second-highest point total this season. Erin Coykendall chipped in with three goals herself, and Molly Laliberty was phenomenal in the goal, tallying seven saves on 13 shots on goal.
Loyola began the game by winning the opening draw, but it was Northwestern that earned its place on the scoreboard first. After a stifling defensive possession, the ‘Cats came marching down to the opponent’s side of the field — nearly giving it away — before a Scane ground ball led to a Madison Taylor goal just over two minutes in.
Elle Hansen added a second, but Loyola notched its own just 41 seconds later with a Chase Boyle score. Both teams alternated turnovers as the Greyhounds missed a handful of free position shots until the Scane Train got rolling with an 8-meter shot from the attacker, this one going in with 3:44 left in the first. Continuing the ‘Cats’ free position dominance, Dylan Amonte picked up a goal of her own, extending Northwestern’s lead to 4-1 at the end of the quarter.
Scane started the second with a missed penalty shot, but was not deterred, flexing her skillset with a spin move inside the crease before dumping the ball over the top of the goalie. Hailey Rhatigan joined in on the fun just 45 seconds later, putting the ‘Cats up 6-1. The onslaught continued, as Hansen scored her second of the game despite being tied up with a Greyhound defender. Meanwhile, the Loyola scoring drought persisted.
After 18 minutes and 35 seconds, Loyola finally broke its cold streak, answering a third Scane goal with a score from Georgia Latch. Northwestern refused to let any momentum build, though, as Coykendall and Scane added goals to an increasingly widening lead before the half.
Loyola tacked on one more, but Northwestern led 10-3 at the break behind four goals from Scane. NU doubled up the Greyhounds on shots, 22-11, and the Wildcats’ dominance across the board directly resulted in the seven-goal halftime lead. Laliberty also shined in the net, earning five saves on eight shots on goal.
The ‘Cats picked up right where they left off in the second half, with an Emerson Bohlig goal giving NU an 11-3 advantage. Coykendall and Scane sliced and diced the Greyhound defense again for a goal each, allowing Northwestern to have a running clock with 6:32 left in the third.
The Wildcats appeared content to wind the clock for the rest of the period, taking several possessions down to the waning seconds of the shot clock while firing less attempts than either of the two prior quarters. This, combined with several great plays from Laliberty, who made a great read to pop out of her net and steal a Greyhound pass, kept Loyola scoreless in the quarter. Scane closed the third by scoring her sixth goal of the game on a free position shot, capping off a quarter in which NU outscored Loyola, four-zip.
Four minutes of keep-away into the fourth, Scane scored her seventh goal of the day despite falling down in the process. Loyola scored two goals to end a 22-minute drought, and Coykendall delivered the final blow with 3:17 remaining.
The Wildcats will head to the Final Four in Cary, North Carolina, next week, where they’ll be greeted by No. 2 Syracuse, No. 3 Boston College and No. 5 Denver. They’ll hope for a better result than 2022, when a late collapse slammed the door shut on their season in the semifinals.
Northwestern has been seven-time national champions for a long time. After winning all of their rings in the span of eight years, the Wildcats have gotten close to the title, but have not quite been able to get over the hump. Yet, this year feels a little different to those around the program, and heading into the penultimate round, the vibes surrounding Northwestern lacrosse could not be better.