In a wild, high-scoring, back-and-forth affair on Sunday afternoon in Ryan Fieldhouse, No. 6 Northwestern Lacrosse (4-2) defeated the No. 24 Stanford Cardinal (2-3), 25-18. Behind 15 combined goals from Lauren Gilbert, Izzy Scane, and Lindsey McKone, the Wildcats picked up their second top-25 win of the young season. The win was the 300th in the illustrious career of head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, who built Northwestern Lacrosse into a dynasty over a decade ago and continues to trot out a championship-caliber team year after year.
This fantastic video from Northwestern Athletics commemorates the milestone:
After the Wildcats picked up a quick 2-0 lead, Stanford -- led by head coach Danielle Spencer, a 3-time national champion as a player at Northwestern and coaching protege of Amonte Hiller -- tore off a 7-0 scoring run to put the Cardinal firmly in control. Junior Ali Baiocco led the charge with the first two goals of the run, on her way to an impressive six-goal performance; her performance continued a concerning trend in which the Northwestern defense has struggled to stop star players on top-25 opponents. The Cardinal held NU scoreless for over 9 minutes as they dominated time of possession.
Northwestern proceeded to slowly but surely trim their deficit for the remainder of the half. Over the following nine minutes, the ‘Cats went on a 4-1 run featuring two goals from Scane. Then, after two quick Stanford goals, Northwestern dominated the final five minutes to tie the score at 10-10 going into the half. The 4-0 run included a free position bullet from Scane, a behind-the-back goal off a loose ball from Megan Kinna, and this beautiful goal from Lauren Gilbert, the fastest player on the field:
The heavy dose of scoring did not stop in the second half. There was an immediate barrage of four goals in three minutes, with two from each side, resulting in a 12-12 score. A couple minutes later, the Wildcats took advantage of a Stanford penalty, with McKone capitalizing on a nice assist from Erin Coykendall, who led all players with three assists and has tallied seven in the past three games. They would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game. The prolific Northwestern offense produced a number of highlight-reel goals over the next several minutes: Gilbert weaved through three defenders for NU’s 15th goal, followed just a minute later by a marvelous assist from Scane to McKone, who put it away with a one-timer.
Meanwhile on the defensive side, goalkeeper Madison Doucette notched a couple of saves on tough shots from Mikaela Watson. Doucette held Watson, Stanford’s leading scorer, to just one goal on the afternoon. She also recorded eight saves.
The exact same pattern repeated itself in the back end of the half. Stanford scored two quick goals, cutting the deficit to 17-14, only to surrender an extended Wildcat run that virtually put the game away. In the third seven-goal run of the match, six different Northwestern players scored, demonstrating the depth and speed of the Northwestern attack. Highly recruited first-year Jane Hansen scored twice consecutively to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 21-14; Hansen now has nine goals on the season.
Finally, for good measure, Stanford went on a 4-1 run over the final five minutes, yielding the final score of 25-18.
This was an important win for Northwestern coming off a disappointing loss vs. Syracuse. Amonte Hiller and company now turn their attention towards their final non-conference matchup before Big Ten play: a monster showdown with No. 1 UNC on Monday, March 9. Northwestern wants to emerge as a frontrunner for the national championship, and beating the best team in the country is a good way to do just that.
All rankings come from the IWLCA Coaches' Poll.