Joe’s Corner: Game of Thrones: Women’s Lacrosse Edition

WNUR Sports Director Joe Misulonas (@jmisulonas) matches contenders for the women’s lacrosse title to contenders for the Iron Throne in HBO’s Game of Thrones. (Some spoilers ahead!)

Spring has arrived here in Evanston. It is a magical time at Northwestern. Students can take off their parkas and finally enjoy the dreary misery of April showers on campus, as the sidewalks become caked in mud despite the fact that I’ve never seen anyone walk on anything other than sidewalk on campus. (Seriously, no one ever just cuts through the grass, even when they know it will take longer to walk all the way around on the sidewalk. It’s illogical)

It is also the season for women’s lacrosse, and Northwestern (if you hadn’t heard) is kinda of good at that sport. Northwestern’s hierarchy over the sport is in jeopardy, as only one team can hoist the trophy at the end of the NCAA Tournament. It is a lot like the battle for the Iron Throne in HBO’s hit television show “Game of Thrones,” without the gratuitous nudity and violence (so, basically nothing like the show).

It is helpful to look at the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse scene through the lens of Game of Thrones to help sort out who are the favorites to win it all this season. Unless you haven’t watched the show, in which case this will make absolutely no sense to you.

Winter is coming. Well, not really. It's already spring.

Winter is coming. Well, not really. It’s already spring.

Side Note: I will not spoil anything from “Game of Thrones” Seasons 2 or 3. However, I have to reveal several plot elements from Season One because then there would be nothing to go on for this column. So SPOILER ALERT

Northwestern: The Lannisters

It’s obviously hard for me to make this comparison, given that the Lannisters are the primary villains in “Game of Thrones.” But the analogy is pretty obvious. Northwestern is the most prestigious program in the nation right now, coming off seven national championships in the past 8 years. The Lannisters are the wealthiest of the Great Houses, and take over the Iron Throne after Robert Baratheon’s death.

Both are at the height of their power and influence over their respective kingdoms, but both are facing encroaching threats to their hold over the throne. And even though the Lannisters are the villains in “Game of Thrones,” remember Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion is also a Lannister, and he is by far the most awesome character on the show.

Maryland: Daenerys Targaryen

Maryland won seven national championships from 1995-2001. They were the ones sitting on the Iron Throne, in complete control of the Women’s Lacrosse scene. And then Northwestern emerges, led by former Maryland Terrapin player Kelly Amonte Hiller, and slays the Maryland beast and takes the Iron Throne. This is similar to “Game of Thrones,” where King Aerys Targaryen is murdered by Jaime Lannister, a member of his guard. The Targaryens lose the throne and are forced into exile, as the Lannister’s become the most powerful family in the seven kingdoms.

Now, Maryland has re-emerged as a threat under the leadership of Cathy Reese. Maryland is currently undefeated and the unanimous no. 1 team in the nation. If Cathy Reese is Danerys Targaryen, then Alex Aust and Katie Schwarzmann are her dragons (again, if you’ve never seen the series or finished Season 1, this will make no sense to you). Danerys is hoping to retake the Iron Throne with her dragons, and Reese is hoping to retake the National Championship with her two star players.

Florida: The Starks

I don’t want to compare the Florida Gators to the Starks, who are the heroes of the show. But as an objective journalist and “Game of Thrones” fan, the analogy works well.

Florida has quickly emerged as the greatest threat to the Northwestern throne. Last year, Florida beat Northwestern twice, including a 14-7 victory in the American Lacrosse Conference Championship Game. The Starks have won every single victory in their battles against the Lannisters, and are slowly making their way towards the Iron Throne. Maryland may be the existential threat to Northwestern’s dominance, but Florida is their immediate foe. This Saturday the two teams face off in what will determine the winner of the ALC, and will likely meet again in the ALC championship game this May. The winners of those battles will be one of the favorites to win it all this year.

(SPOILER: If Florida is the Starks, then Penn State is the Greyjoys, who used Florida’s focus on Northwestern to get a quick victory and keep Florida’s dominance over the conference in check. Why am I even writing a column that I know only a select few will understand?)

Syracuse: The Baratheons

If you haven’t seen Season Two of “Game of Thrones,” stop reading. This analogy makes a lot of sense, but only if you’ve finished that season.

Syracuse is clearly Stannis Baratheon. At the end of Season Two, Stannis had led his army to the gates of King’s Landing to take the Iron Throne away from the Lannisters. The Lannisters end up winning a decisive victory and decimate his army, leaving him to retreat and lick his wounds at the beginning of Season Three.

Similarly, Syracuse was on the precipice of taking the Crown away from Northwestern last season, when they defeated Florida in the National Semifinals and got to the Championship game. In fact, they took an early lead on Northwestern, only to end up losing 8-6. Syracuse is not as stacked as Florida and Maryland, and Northwestern has beaten them already once this year. But they can always make a run in the Tournament to take over the Women’s Lacrosse Iron Throne.

I don’t have a whole lot of analogies left, so I will just mention that UNC is the only team to beat Northwestern so far this year and they will be a team with a chance to make a run this year as well.

So there you have it. NCAA Women’s Lacrosse has as many competing factions as “Game of Thrones,” but I understand what’s happening in lacrosse and I have no idea what’s happening on the show.

Also, I know this column was written for a very select audience. But I had a lot of fun with it, and I hope you did too.

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