By: Caleigh Ryan
No. 13 Northwestern Lacrosse (4 – 6) looks to snap their two-game losing streak Thursday as they host the Michigan Wolverines at 6:00 at Martin Stadium. After dropping their Big Ten opener at No. 1 Maryland and a road contest at No. 16 Penn, the Cats hope to get back on the winning track with their next four games at home.
Senior Kaleigh Craig passed the 100 career goal mark when she chipped in four goals in the overtime loss at Penn. Redshirt junior Christina Esposito helped carry the offensive load, adding four goals for the Cats, who fell to No. 16 Penn, 14-13 in OT.
Northwestern is 3 – 0 all time against the Wolverines. These two teams last met in the first round of the inaugural Big Ten tournament last year in Piscataway, New Jersey. Craig contributed 3 goals to help the Cats to a 13 – 9 win and advance to the semifinals.
Michigan is fresh off a 10-9 loss to No. 18 Ohio State, in which junior Kim Coughlin contributed five goals. Coughlin leads the Wolverines with 29 points on the season.
Michigan is 10th in the NCAA in turnovers forced per game, averaging 10.6 per contest. Kelly Kubach leads the team with 19 forced turnovers and ranks third in the Big Ten, averaging 1.58 per game.
Turnover have caused Northwestern problems in their last two losses. Against Maryland and Penn, the Cats committed 29 turnovers, which was 6 more than the competition. With one of Michigan’s strengths being forcing turnovers, the Cats are going to have to make retaining possession a point of emphasis.
The Cats will continue to rely on sophomore Shelby Fredericks in the draw circle, as she ranks No. 8 in the country with 5.6 draw controls per game. Northwestern won the draw control battle against Penn and only lost by three in the loss at Maryland.
Freshman Mallory Weisse was named Defensive Player and Freshman of the Week, for the week beginning March 29th. The newcomer leads the Big Ten with 74 saves on the year.
With six regular season games remaining, and four of those against ranked opponents, the Cats will need to start to gain momentum headed into the Big Ten tournament. Moving to 5 – 6 on the season with a win against Michigan would be a good way to start.
WNUR’s own Austin Miller and Caleigh Ryan will have the call for WNUR Sports from Martin Stadium on Thursday evening. WNUR’s live coverage starts at 5:45 pm and can be heard live over 89.3 FM in the Evanston and Chicago area or online at wnursports.com