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Previewing the Northwestern lacrosse defense

The Lake Show might be known for its offense, but don’t forget the defense.

Photo by Ryan Hunt/Getty Images

The Lake Show is back in action on Saturday, facing off against Syracuse at home. As the pre-season No. 1 team looks to return to the championship, let’s dive into some key components of the defense, including the woman in goal. Northwestern also brings in some first-year defenders, who you can learn about here.

Molly Laliberty, Graduate Student

Laliberty had one of the best storylines in college sports last season, winning a national championship as the Northwestern starting goalie, after losing two consecutive Division III championships at Tufts. She had an impressive DI season, finishing with a 0.473 save percentage that ranked 19th in the nation. But most importantly, she stepped up at the most important moments, making a game-winning free position shot against Boston College in the regular season and tallying a critical eight saves in the Final Four against Denver.

With a year of DI experience under her belt, expect Laliberty to be even more polished than last season.

Sammy White, Junior

White, Inside Lacrosse’s No. 8 ranked player and the 2023 NCAA Championship’s most outstanding player, switched from the midfielder to defender against BC and has played a critical role ever since. She led Northwestern with 31 caused turnovers and 42 ground balls, and her speed down the field in transition is crucial for getting the ball to the Wildcats’ lethal offense. White is also very strong in the draw circle, picking up 68 draw controls.

Kendall Halpern, Senior

Halpern is another prolific defender, finishing second on the team in ground balls (37) and caused turnovers (26) last year. Her efforts led to her winning second-team All-B1G honors last season, the first all-conference recognition of her.

Carleigh Mahoney, Senior

Mahoney started every game for the first time in her career last season and saw major jumps in her numbers. She totaled 33 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers, in addition to reducing the number of turnovers she had herself from 21 to seven. She also made some offensive contributions, totaling six assists and a goal.

Katie Shanley, Graduate Student

Shanley started one game last season and saw time off the bench in 20, recording three ground balls and two caused turnovers — including one turnover in the national semi-final game.