Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Youthful Cats set to battle Huskies (Lacrosse)

Northwestern women’s lacrosse coach Kelly Amonte Hiller realizesthat moral victories can sometimes be good for a team, but laughsat the idea of being satisfied with a loss.

“I don’t think we would ever be in that stage,” she said with achuckle. “You don’t want to lose, but if you do then you want totake something away from it.”

The Wildcats (5-3) learned a lot last week — at the expense ofthree losses.

After their American Lacrosse Conference record dropped to 1-3,the Cats are trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s 5-10performance that included a 2-4 mark in conference play.

A win Sunday at home against No. 19 Connecticut (5-2) would be abig step in the right direction for NU.

Since the Cats can’t directly avenge the three loses sufferedlast week to No. 17 Ohio State, No. 20 Vanderbilt and No. 18 JohnsHopkins, the Cats will have to try and find some solace in beatingthe team that stole their No. 19 ranking in the coaches poll.

After starting the season 5-0, NU crashed into the poll for thefirst time since regaining varsity status last year. After that,they lost three straight.

But even with the defeats in the first half of this year, theCats have retained the positive aspects of last season’s team andbuilt on lessons learned.

The Cats are scoring more goals, making better passes andimproving their understanding of the game.

Once again, NU features a physical defense and a sharp offenseled by a tandem of scorers. And while the players from last yearhave matured, there is an abundance of youth.

But to call NU young would be an understatement. This year 23 ofthe 25 players on the roster are underclassmen. Last season NU onlyhad 19 players — 15 of them freshmen — and no juniors or seniors.Two of last year’s four sophomores, sisters Ashley and CourtneyKoester, had never played lacrosse before being recruited by AmonteHiller.

“Coach just came up to us randomly one day and asked us to playlacrosse,” Courtney Koester said. “At first I just laughed.”

The only player on the team with collegiate experience wasAngela McMahon, who transferred from Massachusetts.

But the experience gained by the team that had twice as many”moral victories” as legitimate wins has helped NU begin to shedits aura of youth.

Courtney Koester, who started for NU in the first lacrosse gameshe ever saw, has grown into a dangerous offensive weapon. Midwaythrough the season she’s second on the team with 15 points,including a four goal performance March 28 against JohnsHopkins.

The Cats host another relatively new team in the Huskies, whohave been coached by Bonnie Rosen since gaining varsity status in1997.

Amonte Hilller describes the team as fast and welldisciplined.

“They’ve been able to beat some good teams,” she said. “We’reexpecting a good opponent, and we’re really excited about it.”

The Cats will need a solid performance from both CourtneyKoester and leading scorer Courtney Flynn to position themselvesfor a win. The duo struggled last week, but they’re looking tocapitalize on nine days of rest, and a fatigued Connecticut squadthat has to face No. 15 Notre Dame on Saturday before playing theCats.

“Both Courtney’s are finding their groove offensively,” AmonteHiller said. “That is gonna be key for us.”

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Youthful Cats set to battle Huskies (Lacrosse)