NU Lacrosse stays undefeated at home
By Logan Schiciano
While students are away on spring break, Northwestern lacrosse is making the most of its time at home. The Wildcats outlasted Ohio State on Saturday in their Big Ten opener and crushed Dartmouth on Monday at Ryan Fieldhouse to improve to 7-2 (1-0) on the season.
After beating the Buckeyes handedly twice last year, the ‘Cats looked to get off to a hot start against an improved Ohio State team. The sides exchanged goals to open the game, but No. 4 Northwestern went on a 4-0 scoring run to take a 5-1 lead midway through the opening period.
The ‘Cats maintained a healthy advantage for much of the first half and headed to the locker room leading 12-7. Attacker Lauren Gilbert led the way with three goals, but it was truly a team effort, with eight Wildcats getting on the scoresheet.
After the break, goals from Nicole Ferrara, Caly O’Brien and Jamie Level brought the Buckeyes within two, but the ‘Cats responded with six unanswered scores, including two within the span of just seven seconds, to put Northwestern ahead 18-10 early in the fourth period.
Kelly Amonte Hiller’s squad never looked back, leveling Ohio State 22-14. In addition to Gilbert’s team-high five scores, seven other Wildcats tallied multiple goals. Hannah Johnson continued her breakout 2022 campaign with a hat trick, while freshman Samantha Smith added three of her own.
With the win, the ‘Cats extended their win-streak against the Buckeyes to nine-straight games (last loss came in 2014). Northwestern also has gone undefeated in regular season Big Ten play dating back to April 2019.
Northwestern had just one day to recover before welcoming head coach (and former Wildcat) Alex Frank’s crew to Evanston on Monday. Despite an unimpressive 2-3 record heading into the contest, the Big Green came out strong, notching the opening two goals.
The ‘Cats did not seem phased, using an 12-0 scoring run to seize control of the game. While the usual suspects like Gilbert and Erin Coykendall played a big part in the offensive rampage, an unlikely source provided a spark as well.
Defender Ally Palermo converted a free position chance midway through the first quarter – her first goal since February 18, 2018, against Duke. When the ball found the back of the cage, every player on the field (even goalie Madison Doucette) raced toward the Dartmouth goal to embrace the graduate student.
But the magic wasn’t over. Sophomore Leah Holmes also made the highlight reel with a slick behind-the-back goal to cap the outburst.
The Big Green managed to quell Northwestern’s offense in the second half, largely due to a career game from goalie Gisele Todd. The first-year faced 46 shots and had 18 saves. But even with Todd’s incredible play, Dartmouth had a hard time mustering chances of its own. One big reason for this was Northwestern’s dominance on the draw, with Jill Girardi corralling a career-best 13 and the ‘Cats holding a 21-9 advantage overall on draws.
When the final horn sounded, Northwestern secured an 18-8 victory, moving to 6-0 at home this season. Gilbert once again paced the ‘Cats with six goals and now leads the Big Ten with 37 on the season. Coykendall also had a strong overall performance with three goals and two assists. Palermo anchored the defense, which allowed a season-low eight goals, with two caused turnovers and four ground balls.
Northwestern will be back in action Saturday when it takes on No. 12 Michigan in Ann Arbor.