Northwestern lacrosse coach Kelly Amonte Hiller has repeatedly stated, “To be the best, you have to beat the best.” She translates that sentiment into action: nine of the Wildcats’ 16 regular season matchups are against ranked opponents, with six against top 10 opponents. While Northwestern (9-4, 3-1 B1G) has a sterling 6-0 record against unranked foes, they have had more mixed results against top opponents: 3-4 versus ranked opponents, and after last night’s loss to No. 2 Maryland (15-0, 7-0 B1G), 1-4 against the top 10. Therefore, the ‘Cats have proven themselves consistent, but have not proven themselves a part of the most elite tier of teams in serious contention for a national championship. In a largely defensive battle on Thursday night marked by a 30+ minute rain delay and a move from Lakeside Field to the Ryan Fieldhouse, Northwestern fell to the Terrapins, 17-13.
Behind a large crowd with plenty of fans on both sides, Northwestern got off to a hot start. After over five minute without a score, Selena Lasota (stats) got things going with a free position goal, immediately followed by goals from freshmen Emily Stein and sophomore Lauren Gilbert within a minute.
After trading goals, Maryland slowed down the Northwestern attack and cut the deficit to 4-3. Stein, Lasota, and Gilbert each scored again to 12 minutes to bring the advantage back to 7-4, but Maryland dominated the final 5:15 to even the score at 7-7 as the sun was setting at Martin Stadium.
Maryland had the advantage in shots, shots on goal, and ground balls at the half. Northwestern committed more fouls and had more turnovers, had a slight edge in draw controls and saves. Mallory Weisse, Northwestern’s goalie as Julie Krupnick was on the bench, notched seven saves in the period.
The rain began to fall as the second half began, and a battle ensued between the best players on the field, Northwestern’s Lasota and Maryland’s Caroline Steele. Lasota had two go-ahead goals and one tying goals in the half, While Steele notched three go-ahead goals. Shortly after the Terrapins’ Erica Evans scored to tie the game at 12-12 with 12:28 to go, the heavens opened up and a lightning storm caused a long delay. For the first time ever, officials decided to move the game from Martin Stadium to the Ryan Fieldhouse.
When the game resumed, it was all Maryland. As Northwestern’s offense stalled, Jen Giles, Steele, and Brindi Griffin scored to give the Terrapins a relatively comfortable three-goal advantage. Northwestern committed seven fouls in the last 12 minutes. From there, it was smooth sailing for Maryland to a 17-13 win.
With two conference games to go, the loss eliminated Northwestern from contention for the outright regular-season Big Ten championship. However, the Wildcats have two top-10 matchups in their next two games, against No. 8 Michigan (13-1, 3-1 B1G) and No. 6 Notre Dame (12-2). The matchup at Michigan begins at Martin Stadium next Thursday at 3 p.m.