By Andrew Bowen
#3/4 Northwestern women’s lacrosse began its season this weekend. The best athletic program on campus got off to a hot start in out-of-conference play with two games. The ‘Cats opened their 2020 campaign hosting the Detroit Mercy Titans on Friday, dominating from start to finish in a 30-3 win over the SoCon visitors. Then, Northwestern traveled to North Carolina to take on the #21 Duke Blue Devils. Northwestern was able to take home ranked victory from the road trip with a 24-20 win to start the season 2-0.
One of the biggest questions for this team coming off of last year’s national semifinal exit was the offense. With star attacker Selena Lasota leaving, who was the offense going to run through? With the offensive explosion this weekend, those doubts can be put to rest. Izzy Scane has emerged as a dangerous offensive threat, netting 5 goals against Duke and 4 goals against Detroit Mercy. Mainstays from last season Lindsey McKone and Lauren Gilbert have taken on larger roles within the offense as well. In all, 14 different ‘Cats scored against Detroit Mercy and 7 different players scored against Duke. This offense may not have a true center piece, but it can score from any different direction.
On the other side of the ball, the defense looked solid against Detroit Mercy, although that was to be expected against that level of competition. Against a much more formidable opponent in Duke, the defense bent but didn’t break, allowing 20 goals through 60 minutes. Northwestern led 24-14 with under 10 minutes to go in the game before conceding the game’s final six goals to make the score appear closer than the game actually was. The Wildcats boasted a top-5 offense last season, but were ranked 83rd in scoring defense. That will have to improve this year if Northwestern wants to win its 8th national title. Julie Krupnick and Madison Doucette will likely see some splits in time this season, as both have made some big saves early on. Doucette made 10 saves with 12 GA in the contest with Duke, Krupnick with 8 GA and 6 saves.
It starts with goalkeeping, but ends with back-line play. We weren’t sure who would play in that 4th spot on the back line for NU this season, and it may continue to be a revolving door. Ivy Arlia played well this weekend, and could provide some senior leadership for a young team.
Lastly, Brennan Dwyer continues to be a force on draw controls, notching 10 against Duke and 8 against Detroit Mercy. She will need to outgain opponents by a healthy margin this year for Northwestern to get into quick offensive sets and score some transition goals. With Shelby Fredericks added to the coaching staff this year as an assistant, I’m excited to see where this team will go with controlling the circle.
The ‘Cats got off to a solid start for the 2020 season. With a brutal schedule coming up, we will see if this young roster with 12 new players can make a push for the program’s 8th title. Coming up next for NU women’s lacrosse is a homestand against Notre Dame and Arizona State, as the ‘Cats look to remain undefeated and continue to climb the national rankings.