Coming off of a victory against No. 20 Duke Blue Devils in Durham last Sunday, No. 3 Northwestern women’s lacrosse (3-1) looked to continue their perfect season in a weekend doubleheader at home. After a hard-fought battle on Friday night, the ‘Cats were edged 17-15 by a 7th-ranked Notre Dame (3-0) team that was looking to avenge its season-ending loss from last year’s NCAA tournament. Forty hours later, Kelly Amonte Hiller’s squad recovered from the loss and easily defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1), 28-12.
In a packed Ryan Fieldhouse on Friday, two of the top 10 teams in the nation put on a show from the first minute of the game. Sophomore Izzy Scane, Northwestern’s leading scorer for the past two games, scored the first of her game-high four goals 25 seconds into the match. The teams then exchanged goals, neither being able to pull away until halftime.
Starting from 2:52 left in the first half, Notre Dame put up three goals in a row, returning to the locker room with a 11-8 lead. They extended the lead to 4 five minutes into the second half, but that would be the largest lead either team had the entire night. Northwestern responded with four straight goals of their own, tying the game at 12 with 16 minutes of action time left. The Fighting Irish then scored three in a row, while goalie Bridget Deehan, who had a career night with 12 saves, put Northwestern offensive crew’s production on pause.
Liza Elder quickly scored twice, pulling Northwestern within one with eight minutes remaining. But the ’Cats couldn’t keep the momentum going, as Notre Dame’s pair of goals gave them a 17-14 lead with five minutes left on the clock. Despite Scane’s goal with 3:47 to go, the Wildcats fell short of the comeback effort as they commited turnovers in last-minute scrambles. The teams were virtually tied on all statistics, and the ‘Cats lost their first game of the season in a close one.
On Sunday, the Wildcats established their dominance as soon as the game started. It only took Northwestern five minutes to build a 8-0 start, with junior Lauren Gilbert scoring three times. The Oregon native would score a game-high five goals on 6 shots, in addition to a team-high 3 assists. The ’Cats then traded goals with the Sun Devils, each adding six points to the scoreboard in the next six minutes. For the final 18 minutes of the half, the ’Cats scored nine times without giving up a goal, ending the half 23-7.
At times, Arizona State struggled to near Northwestern’s half as junior Brennan Dwyer repeatedly won the draw. Dwyer broke the program record of draw controls in a single game with 21, 16 of which came from the first half alone. Twenty-three points are also the most points the team has ever scored in a half under coach Amonte Hiller.
With the overwhelming advantage, many underclassmen gained playing time in the second half. The Wildcats’ scoring slowed down, adding only five goals in the half. They allowed Arizona State to score five times as well, ending the game with 28-12. Besides Gilbert’s team-high five goals and three assists, 13 other players scored, with senior Lindsey McKone and sophomore Izzy Scane each contributing three. The team together had 15 assists, leading to more than half of their goals.
The ’Cats will return next Saturday to Ryan Fieldhouse to host the No. 4 Syracuse Orange.