Northwestern vs Penn Lacrosse Preview

Northwestern Kara Mupo and Maryland's Taylor Cummings battled at last year's Final Four, and they'll go at it again tonight. Cummings ranks among the NCAA leaders in draw controls, while Mupo is coming off a five-goal game against Syracuse. Photo credit: Greg Wall.
Photo credit: Greg Wall.

Northwestern did exactly what they were supposed to do last time out. On the road against Michigan, NU gave the Wolverines the business, blazing out to an 11-3 halftime lead en route to a comfortable 17-8 victory.

The Wolverines offered no resistance to the Wildcats. Northwestern stomped Michigan in every meaningful category. Shot attempts? NU had 32 to Michigan’s 13. Northwestern successfully cleared the ball over 90% of the time. Michigan? Less than 55%. Michigan fouled the Wildcats 40 times. If ever there was a stat that exposed how overmatched the Wolverines were, that would be it.

But Northwestern will be facing a very different kind of team on Sunday. NU welcomes in the Penn Quakers, who currently sit just outside the top 10 of the national polls, ranked 11th in the country. Penn has just one loss on the year, a 12-7 game against No. 1 Maryland, but they haven’t played the kind of grueling schedule Northwestern has. The Quakers are led by senior Tory Bensen, who’s 9th in the country in scoring with 34 in 10 contests. As a whole, Penn believes firmly in the “defense first” method of lacrosse. Penn ‘s stifling defense is giving up less than 6.5 goals a contest, good for 6th in the country. Their offense is significantly less scary, ranking outside the top 40.

Northwestern appears to have rebounded pretty well after getting blown out by Maryland on their home turf. A tight win over Louisville and the big win against Michigan appear to have Northwestern back on the right track. Selena Lasota continues to be an absolute monster. The freshman is averaging 4 goals a game on the year, is 3rd nationally in scoring, and has scored at least twice as many goals as everyone else on NU’s roster. Lasota is riding high too after putting six past the Wolverines.

But perhaps more important than anything to come out of the Michigan game was Northwestern’s 23-4 domination in the draw circle was completely unusual for a team that on the season wins less than 50% of its draw controls. If Northwestern can keep that going, there’s no reason it can’t keep the good times rolling and knock off Penn this Sunday.

You can catch the broadcast on WNUR Sports.

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