‘Cats Take down Buckeyes 23-7 in season opener

By Madeline Southwell

Northwestern women’s lacrosse kicked off its 2021 season with a bang, bringing down the Ohio State Buckeyes 23-7 at Ryan Fieldhouse Sunday.

The game got off to a quick start with first-year Leah Holmes scoring in less than a minute. Four more goals saw the back of the net by just the fifth minute, giving the Wildcats momentum to charge forward. And that is just what they did, leading the Buckeyes 15-0 at the end of the half. 

Offense has been Northwestern’s strength the past two years. In the shortened 2020 season, the ‘Cats posted an average 21.57 goals per game, well past the NCAA record 18.45 goals per game. Though this pace may have fallen if the season had played out normally, the Wildcats’ 23 goal return to the field proves that their goalscoring will be a challenge for all opponents to keep up with.

Junior Izzy Scane led the team in goals, earning a hat trick in the first five minutes and tripling her goals to a stunning nine by the end of the game. Her stellar performance one-upped her last game in March 2020, when she put in eight goals against UNC. Senior attacker Lauren Gilbert followed Scane with six goals. Their chemistry from previous years remains strong.

Sammy Mueller, the graduate transfer from Virginia also got on the board for the first time as a Wildcat. With one goal and one assist, her numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, but her consistency will surely be an asset as the season goes on. 

In the midfield, Brennan Dwyer continued her success on the circle, winning eight draw controls and allowing Northwestern to possess the ball for a majority of the game.

Turning to the other side of the field, the defense had a mixed game. They were barely tested in the first half, seeing only five shots and holding the Buckeyes to zero goals. Madison Doucette, the Junior goalie, ended the game with eight saves, four coming on free position attempts.

Ally Palermo, the 2020 All-American defender, helped stop OSU from scoring at all in the first 35 minutes of the game. After finally letting up a goal in the 37th minute, however, the defense began to break down. In the next 20 minutes, the ‘Cats allowed six more goals, including four from OSU attacker Liza Hernandez.

The second half ended 8-7 Wildcats, a striking change from the first half’s 15-0 run. While in the end, the Buckeyes’ seven goals paled in comparison to the Wildcat’s 23, this second half breakdown in defense is something for head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller to focus on in the week to come. They will need to tighten up their slides and communicate better if they hope to beat other Top-10 teams.

Overall, Northwestern’s return to the field was a smashing success, burying the Buckeyes with goal after goal. The Wildcats have much to celebrate, but they also have a lot to improve on, namely finishing as strong as they start.

Up next, the ‘Cats travel to Maryland to play Johns Hopkins on Feb. 26 and 28. WNUR Sports will be back on the call when Northwestern returns to Ryan Fieldhouse against Penn State early next month.