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History of Northwestern Lacrosse in the Final Four

Will this be the year the ‘Cats bring a title back to Evanston?

2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Semifinals Photo by Greg Fiume/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

While this year marks the fourth-straight Final Four appearance for Northwestern (excluding the canceled 2020 postseason), the ‘Cats have been mainstays in championship weekend for much longer.

2005: First appearance

2005 marked the first NCAA title for Northwestern lacrosse, and first appearance in the Final Four, only three years after they were reinstated as a varsity team and Kelly Amonte Hiller became the coach.

The ‘Cats capped off a perfect 21-0 season with their first title, taking down UVA in the championship game 13-10. This marked the first time that a team outside the Eastern Time Zone has won the women’s lacrosse title. They took down traditional northeastern powerhouses, Dartmouth and Princeton, to get there.

2006: Back-to-back titles

Northwestern brought a second title back to Evanston in 2006, beating Dartmouth in the final. The Wildcats took down Stanford, North Carolina and Duke in the NCAA tournament.

2007: Three-peat

The ‘Cats won their third consecutive title in 2007, beating Virginia again, this time 15-13. To get there, they took down Holy Cross, Syracuse and Penn.

2008: Fourth title

Clearly, Northwestern absolutely dominated this era in women's lacrosse. The Wildcats took home their fourth consecutive title after beating Notre Dame, Syracuse, Princeton and Penn (definitely a trend here).

2009: Fifth title

Just dominance. Northwestern defeated UMass, Princeton, Penn (in double overtime) and North Carolina to take the trophy.

2010: Lost in championship

After winning five consecutive titles, the ‘Cats fell to rival Maryland by two goals in the championship to end their streak.

2011: Sixth Title

This is where we really start to understand the rivalry between the Terps and the ‘Cats. The Wildcats beat Maryland by one goal to take their sixth title after losing it the year before to Maryland.

2012: Seventh title

Once again, Northwestern advanced to the championship game — the eighth-straight time. The ‘Cats took down Syracuse 8-6 to begin a rivalry that is still alive and well, to capture their seventh and most recent title.

2013: Missed championship

2013 marked the first time in nine years that the ‘Cats did not make it to the championship game. They fell to North Carolina in the Semifinals — another rivalry that is still active today.

2014: Fell to Maryland

In 2014, Northwestern also did not advance to the championship but made it to the semifinals. The Wildcats lost to the Terrapins, 9-6.

2019: First time since 2014

2019 was the first year that Northwestern made it back to the Final Four after putting together the iconic stretch of seasons starting in 2005. Now, though, we know this was a beginning of a new dynasty — Izzy Scane’s first season in Evanston.

2021: Conference only season

Northwestern, coming off the heels of an unblemished regular season, fell to Syracuse 21-13 in the NCAA semifinals.

2022: Heartbreak

Almost a year later, and it still hurts. UNC mounted an eight-goal comeback to advance to the championship game over Northwestern. The Tar Heels won 15-14 and went on to win their first championship since 2016.

2023: Redemption?

After a dominant regular season and strong takedown of Loyola (MD) in the quarterfinals, Northwestern has advanced to its fourth-straight final four, and fourteenth appearance in the Championship weekend.

The question looms — does this year’s team have what it takes to get over the hump, and advance to the championship game for the chance to bring back a trophy for the first time since 2012? Northwestern takes on No. 5 Denver on Friday with a trip to championship on the line.