Staff Predictions: NCAA Lax Tourney 2022
After an agonizing 13-5 loss against Rutgers, No. 4-seed Northwestern will look to start a long NCAA tournament run this weekend. This will be the Wildcats 23rd appearance in the tournament and a chance for them to win the eighth national championship in program history. First, they will host Central Michigan (12-7, 8-2 MAC) on Friday for the first round. If they come out on top, they’ll advance to play the winner of Michigan vs. Notre Dame in the second round. But just how far will the ‘Lakeshow’ go? Here are our staff’s predictions:
Ashley Tumpowsky (@AshleyTumpowsky):
I feel like the ‘Cats have lost their spark over the last two games, and that worries me. But I still have some faith. In the first round, I think Northwestern’s speed and technique will be too much for Central Michigan and the ‘Cats will easily defeat the Chippewas. Next, they will face the winner of Notre Dame vs Michigan, both teams that Northwestern beat during the regular season. I believe this game will come down to the wire, however, I am trusting Coach Amonte Hiller will get her team through to the Quarterfinals. Unfortunately, I think that is where Northwestern will likely see their season come to an end at the hands of No. 5-seed Syracuse. Given their current track record, I just do not think they have enough positive momentum and confidence to defeat the Orange and make it to the Final Four. In a painfully ironic fashion, they will see their postseason dreams crushed by the same team as last year.
Sarah Meadow (@sarah_meadow):
These ‘Cats are making it to the Final Four: I don’t know if they will be able to take down No.1-seed, undefeated UNC as they lost 20-9 to them earlier this year, but I think the home field advantage will carry Northwestern until then. A matchup against Notre Dame or Michigan, granted they beat the Central Michigan Chippewas, will be close but I think they will remain on top. Not to think too far ahead , but seeing what happened when we faced the Syracuse Orange at home earlier this season, I think the ‘Cats will win the Quarterfinal matchup as well.
Jacob Brown (@cubsfan57):
Prediction: 2nd Round
There’s just too much pressure on Lauren Gilbert and Jill Girardi to make things happen for the Cats. Notre Dame and Michigan have already played NU this year, and teams like Maryland, BC, and UNC have exposed that if you can shut down NU’s top two, the rest of the offense struggles mightily. The Cats will win one at home but fall Sunday to the winner of Michigan vs. Notre Dame.
Perri Kitei (@perrikitei):
Despite entering the tournament on a two game losing streak, Northwestern actually drew a very favorable draw as the four-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The team has not lost at home, with only one of those games, against possible tournament opponent Syracuse, being particularly close. I predict the team will use their home field advantage to roll past Central Michigan before winning close games against Notre Dame and Syracuse. Ultimately, the ‘Cats will meet their match in Baltimore against a Tar Heel team who already beat Northwestern by 11 goals this season.
After a regular season that mostly met, or even slightly exceeded, expectations, Northwestern suffered a disappointing loss to Rutgers in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. Fortunately for the ‘Cats, by the time their matchup with Central Michigan begins, they will have had a full week to reset and get back on track. I expect them to rely on their high-octane offense for wins over the Chippewas and either Notre Dame or Michigan, both of whom the ‘Cats defeated during the regular season. That would bring about a quarterfinal matchup against a team yet to be determined, but most likely Syracuse. In the regular season, Northwestern came out with a thrilling 16-15 comeback overtime win in which Lauren Gilbert and Jill Girardi scored the final four goals. The past result means that the Orange will come to Evanston looking for revenge — and they’ll find it in a narrow win with their defense holding strong in the end.
Ryan Choe (@RyanChoe_2602):
After a pair of dismal losses in their regular season finale and one-and-done outing in the Big Ten Championships, the ‘Cats head into the NCAA tournament with the wrong type of momentum. A gut feeling tells me that these two contests are the adversity Kelly Amonte Hiller’s squad needs in order to play up to their fullest potential. Look for the team to take out their frustrations on their first round victim Central Michigan. For the second round, Northwestern should be able to come out victorious over either opponent (Michigan or Notre Dame) as both were conquered during the regular season. A likely quarter-final date with Syracuse is a bit of a toss up for me, especially since it took an amazing comeback in March to steal a win. However, I think Northwestern will be extra motivated to avenge their semi-final loss from last year’s tournament against the Orange and having home-field advantage will provide a boost as well. Look for a Syracuse quarter-final contest to be an instant classic. Unfortunately, the ‘Lakeshow’ will come to a close in the semi-finals, where they will run into the No. 1-seed North Carolina. The Tar Heels handed the ‘Cats their worst loss of the season and have only grown stronger since then.
Gavin Dorsey (@gjdorsey7):
I see Northwestern being able to get past both Central Michigan and Michigan/Notre Dame in the first two rounds, but the last two lackluster offensive performances against Maryland and Rutgers leave me questioning whether this team can get past Syracuse or not. If the Wildcats can defeat the Orange as they did earlier this season, they likely face the challenge of defeating the very teams that they struggled so much against this year, but I do not believe they will make it there.
Jake Mozarsky (@jmozarsky):
I think the ‘Cats are going to lose in the semis to North Carolina, the No. 1-seed. Up until the final four, Northwestern will have home field. To keep it short, it’s hard to play the lake show on the lake; Northwestern has not lost a game in Evanston all year. Now, zooming to a potential matchup against UNC: one of the strengths of this Northwestern team has been its offense, as they were in the top ten for goals per game for most of the regular season. Recently, they have fallen out of this, and when you look at North Carolina, they are second in the nation in this category. Northwestern would need to score in bunches, especially after UNC beat them earlier in the season by scoring 20 goals while Northwestern’s offense was stifled. I think that the ‘Cats have only been slightly above average in scoring defense in the NCAA, currently ranking 50th, and this might lead to their downfall. While they score in bunches, they do need to play strong defense when going against the best teams like a UNC, Syracuse or Boston College, two of which Northwestern lost to this year. Of course my prediction will change based on how the rest of the bracket plays out, but for now, it’s a final four exit for NU.
John Volk (@jk_volk):
Last year when we did lacrosse NCAA Tournament predictions, all 10 of us predicted the ‘Cats to make the championship and nine predicted them to win it all. I’m not making that mistake this year. Home field should help Northwestern early as it should dismantle Central Michigan before taking on the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan, both which the ‘Cats have already beaten this season, albeit narrowly. Next up would likely be No. 5 Syracuse who knocked Northwestern out in devastating fashion a year ago. The overtime win against the Orange in March took every ounce of strength the Wildcats had to storm back in the final minutes of the fourth. I struggle to picture them doing that again in the Tournament, especially after Northwestern’s recent scoring issues.
Margaret Fleming (@mgfleming12):
I think the ‘Cats are going to make it to the Final Four and stop there. They’ve done that a lot recently, and I know they want to go farther, but I just don’t know if the way they’ve been playing recently will translate into a championship ring. They’ve fallen to some of the biggest title contenders already this year. I do think they’ll have some big wins, though, and it will be a ton of fun to watch.
Andrew Kupfer (@AndrewKupfer):
Prediction: 2nd Round
It pains me to say it, but I think Northwestern falls to Notre Dame in the Round of 16. The ‘Cats seem lost as a team at the moment and don’t have the mojo they had at the start of the season. Notre Dame on the other hand has won 4 of its last 5 games, including a win against a tournament-making Duke squad. I see Notre Dame beating Michigan, then taking down the Wildcats in the second round.
Andrew Neville (@AndrewNeville20)
Despite entering the tournament on a two game losing streak, Northwestern actually drew a very favorable draw as the four seed in the NCAA Tournament. The team has not lost at home, with only one of those games, against possible tournament opponent Syracuse, being particularly close. I predict the team will use their home field advantage to roll past Central Michigan before winning close games against Notre Dame and Syracuse. Ultimately, the ‘Cats will meet their match in Baltimore against a Tar Heel team who already has once beaten Northwestern by 11 goals.
Ally Navarrete (@ally_nav12):
Despite the setbacks this team has faced in the last couple of weeks, I think they’re still THAT. GOOD. The Lakeshow is undoubtedly looking to avenge their losses to Maryland and Rutgers, and what better way to do it than to go all the way to the Final Four. If there aren’t any upsets in the first two rounds, the ‘Cats would face No. 5-seeded Syracuse in the Elite Eight. They’ve taken down the Orange once this year, and I think they can do it again. And while I do think that this team THAT. GOOD., I just can’t see them (or anyone, for that matter), taking down No.1 UNC. The Tarheels handily took care of the ‘Cats earlier this season, and they’re currently undefeated. All signs point to it being their year. But still, a Final Four run is what I see for Northwestern, and no matter what happens, this tournament is a must-watch for NU lax fans.