4 ‘cats try out for USL National Team

By Kikue Higuchi

Jenny Levy, the US women’s lacrosse national team head coach, announced that 50 players will be invited to try out for the 2021 world championship team. Of those 50, four ‘Cats were selected: graduate transfer Sammy Mueller, junior Izzy Scane, and seniors Lauren Gilbert and Ally Palermo. 

Only 19 current NCAA athletes were selected and the Northwestern selections are the only current Big Ten players invited, although the tryout list did include some Maryland alumni. 

Tryouts are scheduled for December 4-6 in Sparks, Maryland, but not much has changed for the four Wildcats since their invitations were announced. According to Scane, Northwestern lacrosse practices are already intense and highly competitive. Although, Head Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller has definitely been pushing the players individually to help them prepare. 

Scane comes to the tryouts with an amazing resume. She was named 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the year, earned Inside Lacrosse’s second team All-American honors two years in a row (alongside Sammy Mueller) and led the ‘Cats with 29 goals during the abbreviated 2020 season. Gilbert and Palermo follow Scane with equally impressive records. Palermo received Inside Lacrosse’s All American first team honors after her 2020 season. She led the Wildcats with 17 ground balls and eight caused turnovers. Meanwhile, Gilbert is right behind Scane with 25 goals and received an All-American honorable mention last year. Mueller is new to Northwestern but brings a great record from Virginia with her, including her spot on the 2019 IWLCA All-American first team. Mueller’s 21 goals led the Cavaliers during her final season.

Most of the players invited to the tryouts have a lot more experience than their collegiate peers. But Scane thinks they all have a chance and bring something new to the table. She also thinks they might have a unique advantage being current student-athletes: they’re right in the middle of their prime years. 

“If I play how I know I can play,” Scane said, “I should have a pretty good chance to at least compete with these girls.”

Scane is also one of just four players invited from the 2019 US U19 team, which won gold after defeating Canada 13-3. She said being on that team was a dream come true and being on the Championship team would be another step up from that. Many of the women invited are players Scane would watch growing up, specifically Taylor Cummings (Maryland, 2016) and Kayla Treanor (Syracuse, 2016). 

“It would be very cool to be on the same team as them and do what I did last summer on a bigger scale,” Scane said. “It would be an amazing opportunity to be a part of that.”

The tryouts will come after the Thanksgiving holidays and an expected surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. Before the players arrive in Maryland they will have to quarantine for two weeks and will be tested upon arrival in Sparks. Scane is mostly worried about infecting more vulnerable populations rather than getting the virus herself, but the guidelines have given her some peace of mind. “I think we’re all on the same page, not wanting to spread it or give it to anyone else,” she said.

Last year, the pandemic cut the Northwestern winter and spring seasons short and forced everyone to return home. This unexpected stop motivates Scane now to play her best all the time, because she never knows which practice or which game will be her last. That’s her biggest regret from last season: she took a couple games to get into the groove, a luxury she didn’t really have. 

“You gotta give it your all while you’re there, because you never know when your last day playing will be,” she said. “I think that will get me in the head space to go all-in and focusing solely on the tryouts.”