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Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern advances to Big Ten Tournament Championship

Two weeks later, the ‘Cats are back to their dominating ways.

Northwestern Athletics

After falling in the semifinals of last season’s Big Ten Tournament to Rutgers, top-seeded and top-ranked Northwestern lacrosse is going back to the conference tournament championship game.

While the fourth-seeded Michigan Wolverines kept fighting back, cutting the deficit to three twice, Northwestern ultimately pulled away, winning 18-11.

After being limited to only one goal and two assists against Maryland, Izzy Scane tallied four goals and four assists against the Wolverines.

Erin Coykendall also chipped in four goals, with three coming in the first half, while Hailey Rhatigan added four goals and two assists of her own.

Northwestern jumped out to an early 3-0 lead off of back-to-back goals by Coykendall and one from Scane, but Michigan cut into the lead via two goals from Kaley Thompson.

Michigan was granted a trio of draw controls after they were deemed false starts against Northwestern, which allowed the Wolverines to score two unanswered goals before halftime. NU led 10-6 at the break.

While the Wolverines led the second-quarter draw control battle 6-2, Northwestern was able to garner 11 to Michigan’s four in the second half.

The ‘Cats ultimately pulled away in the fourth quarter after UM cut their lead to three, going on an 5-3 run to finish off the game 18-11 and advance to the championship with goals from Samantha Smith, Madison Taylor, Rhatigan and Scane.

On the defensive end, Samantha White led the way with seven draw controls as well as four ground balls. Molly Laliberty tallied eight saves in net.

Scane capped off the game with her fourth goal of the contest and 77th of the season, while her fellow Michigander in maize and blue, Jill Smith — who is second in the conference in goals with 59 — notched her fourth to bring the Wolverines to 11 goals on the night.

In the first meeting between these two teams, there were a whopping ten yellow cards handed out. Tonight, there were only five.

The Wolverines were a familiar opponent for the ‘Cats, as they were downed in Ryan Fieldhouse back on March 16, 16-8. Additionally, their head coach, Hannah Nielsen, is one of the most famous to ever wear the purple in white: playing in Evanston from 2006-2009, she won back-to-back Tewaaraton awards and four national championships as a Wildcat.

Northwestern now sits at a 16-1 record and will face No. 2-seed Maryland in the final. The Terps and the ‘Cats have won the conference every year but one since the Big Ten was formed in 2015 for women’s lacrosse. The two dynamos will square off for the second time in three weeks Saturday at 7 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network.