As was the case in 2019 and 2021, Northwestern (17-1, 6-0 B1G) came out victorious over Maryland (14-6, 4-2 B1G) for its third Big Ten Championship.
The No. 1 Wildcats, who took down the Terps 13-6 for the regular season title on April 22, won 14-9 in their rematch with the No. 10 team in the country. With the victory, NU has likely clinched the top overall seed in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament, which will announce its field tomorrow night.
The top two seeded teams made for a competitive game with Northwestern leading by just one at the half. Izzy Scane, who was limited to just one goal by the Terps in the regular season finale, netted four goals— including a hat trick in just the first two quarters. Erin Coykendall also had two goals and three assists.
In the first half, the ‘Cats struggled on the draw but came out of the break and claimed 7 of 12 draws, proving to be a key aspect as NU ran away with the game. Molly Laliberty also had one of her best performances of the season with 11 saves.
Northwestern got off to a quick 2-0 lead. Elle Hansen notched the first shot of the night to put the ‘Cats on the board. Her sister, Jane Hansen, then laid down a check to earn back Northwestern possession, leading to a goal from Scane off an assist from Coykendall.
The Terps caught up to the ‘Cats, evening the score at two. Chrissy Thomas scored the first Maryland goal, over eight minutes into the game after Maryland’s last two drives ended on a groundball by Samantha White and save from Laliberty. Libby May added another for the Terps.
The Wildcats fired six shots over the last 11 minutes but couldn’t manage to find the back of the cage. Maryland carried its momentum into the next frame, tallying a goal right off the draw to take a 3-2 lead. Dylan Amonte evened it right back up off a pass from Scane, ending a 14-minute scoring drought.
The close back-and-forth continued. May scored to regain the lead, and after four possession changes and eight missed shots, Amonte scored off a free position. Following another Maryland goal, Scane then responded off a pass from Coykendall to make it 5-5.
Name a better duo than Erin Coykendall and Izzy Scane.— Northwestern Lax (@NULax) May 7, 2023
We'll wait pic.twitter.com/P1xO0TSVqX
After earning only one of seven draw controls in the second quarter, sophomore Serafina DeMunno started to take the draw, helping the ‘Cats earn possession. Maddy Taylor then earned two consecutive draw controls, which she and Scane managed to score off of to end the half ahead 7-6. Scane’s goal — which she netted with 23 seconds left in the half — was her third of the game and her 80th of the season.
Despite Maryland ousting Northwestern 9-6 on the draw, the ‘Cats outshot the Terps 23-18.
The ‘Cats kept their energy up with Samantha Smith earning the opening draw of the second half and Coykendall, who had three assists, chipping in a goal for herself. No. 2 fired another off the free position to end seven scoreless minutes and extend the Wildcat lead to three — the largest advantage of the evening. Kendall Halpern had the groundball pickup to earn NU its possession.
Maryland added another, but White won the next draw to set up Taylor, the eight-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, for her second goal of the game.
Before the quarter ended, Hailey Rhatigan chipped in her first of the game to make it 11-8. Seconds after Smith scored early in the fourth quarter, Rhatigan struck again to soundly open up the last frame and extend the Wildcat lead to five.
Hailey Rhatigan is on the board folks pic.twitter.com/Oo2aUNNDPb— Northwestern Lax (@NULax) May 7, 2023
Hannah Leubecker scored Maryland's first goal nearly seven minutes into the last frame to capitalize on a woman-up opportunity, but that would be it for the Terrapins. Scane, the Tewaaraton favorite, capped off the game with another goal at the two-minute mark to make it 14-9.
With the conference title, the Wildcats have won 17 straight since falling to Syracuse in the season opener on Feb. 11.
The first round of the NCAA Tournament will begin on May 12, where Northwestern will hope to begin the journey to its first National Championship in 11 years. It will follow the NCAA Selection Show, which will be streamed on NCAA.com tomorrow night at 8 p.m. CT.