Friday night lights not just for football

Courtney McCarty

Aly Josephs always did the cool thing on weekends. And for a high school student living near Baltimore, that didn’t mean going out at night to a movie or a party. It meant going to a local college’s lacrosse game.

Baltimore is considered the mecca of lacrosse, because local schools like Maryland, Towson, Loyola, William and Mary, and Johns Hopkins all have long histories of lacrosse success. Four of those teams are ranked in the nation’s top 20.

“I don’t think people understand how big lacrosse is there,” said Josephs, now a Northwestern attacker. “When I go home, it’s all you do. You live, eat, breathe lacrosse.”

Josephs used to go to local college games with her club teammates, who would admire and learn from the college players. Now, Josephs will be playing on the field herself when she and the No. 1 Wildcats (14-0, 3-0 ALC) meet No. 11 Johns Hopkins (8-3, 3-1 ALC) on Friday night.

“When you’re in high school, you always look up to them,” Josephs said. “Now, little girls will be looking up to me.”

Aspiring lacrosse stars won’t be the only ones watching Josephs play. Her family, friends and former teammates will travel from nearby schools Maryland and Towson to watch her play for the Cats for the first time near her hometown of Reisterstown, Md.

Josephs will also face two of her former club teammates, Cherie Michaud and Alex Nolan, playing for Johns Hopkins.

“It’s really exciting to have people watching me who have seen me play all through high school,” she said. “It’s kind of cool going from not sure if I’d be able to play (at NU) to going and playing there.”

The game will be a homecoming for four other Northwestern players from the Baltimore area, and backup goaltender Meredith Philipp hosted the team dinner Thursday night at her home in Towson, Md.

In Philipp’s first homecoming in 2002, the Blue Jays beat the Cats 11-7. Northwestern is 1-2 in the all-time series between the two teams.

Lacrosse is the featured sport at Johns Hopkins because its lacrosse teams play in Division I ; all other Blue Jays’ sports play in Division III.

Johns Hopkins also boasts an undefeated, first-ranked men’s team and Homewood Field, which hosted the NCAA lacrosse finals in both 1999 and 2001.

The Blue Jays are undefeated at Homewood Field this season, and on top of that advantage, they also have experience playing night games.

Friday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m., the latest start time of the season for the Cats, who will hold a night practice Thursday at Homewood Field. Playing under the lights will add more excitement to the atmosphere but won’t hinder the team’s performance, Josephs said.

Josephs said she’s also excited for her homecoming because she hopes her team can show Baltimore it’s not the only place for lacrosse. Most of her high school and club teammates chose to stay in the Baltimore area or in a nearby East Coast state, and Josephs said she wants to show younger players in the crowd there are other options.

“I think a lot of people were surprised by our success this year,” Joseph said. “I’m excited to go home and show ‘Look what you can do when you leave. Look, you can build a program.'”

Reach Courtney McCarty at [email protected]