By: Ben Bokun

After losing in a comeback effort to the No. 20 Duke Blue Devils, the Wildcats needed to make a statement Sunday afternoon against a highly ranked opponent.

Northwestern did not let their first loss of the season faze them, and the Wildcats’ veterans took matters into their own hands against the No. 6 USC Trojans during their 9-5 win at Martin Stadium.

Attackers Danita Stroup and Selena Lasota both tallied hat tricks for the ‘Cats, scoring three goals each. Three other Wildcats scored, but a strong defensive effort also helped Northwestern hold the Trojans to five goals. Lasota criticized herself for shooting high on goal, but she said she was motivated nonetheless to score in a game the team knew they needed to win.

“I had a little bit of fire,” Lasota said.

Goalie Julie Krupnick, a promising young talent for Northwestern, made six flashy saves and only allowed five goals. Her miraculous saves on tough shots kept the Wildcats in the game, but she complemented her teammates and USC for their strong play.

“Their offense was so good,” Krupnick said. “We played strong the whole time.”

Attacker Shelby Fredericks had a game-high six draw controls for Northwestern, showing why she is one of the best players in the country in that category. She also contributed in the scoring column by adding a goal of her own.

The ‘Cats led at halftime, 4-3, but USC proved they were ready to play in the second half by scoring two unanswered goals and taking the lead 5-4 with 14:50 left to play in the game. Northwestern answered quickly with a game-tying goal from Lasota a little over a minute later, and the team never looked back.

The Wildcats scored five unanswered goals to finish the game and secure a convincing victory. The highlight moment of those five scores came when Lasota ripped through the USC defense to score a charging goal after dodging a defender with under two minutes left in the game.

Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said the team is excited after their win, and she applauded her squad for their strong performance after losing the lead in the second half.

“We really were there mentally,” said Amonte Hiller. “Any game is a big win.”

Northwestern will hope to keep the momentum in Evanston next Saturday for a 12 p.m. matchup against No. 2 Stony Brook.