NU Comes Home With Top Ranking (Women’s Lacrosse)

Wade Askew

By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

After picking up five consecutive road victories and reclaiming their No. 1 ranking, the Wildcats return home this weekend to kick off a six-game homestand.

The team’s players and staff are excited not only to play in front of their own fans, but also look forward to the prospect of not spending hours in airports and on planes.

“It’s just great because afterward there’s not so much travel,” senior midfielder Kristen Kjellman said. “I used to love away games more because more of our families could come, but after a long stretch last year, now I love home games.”

Friday’s contest against No. 8 Syracuse (6-3) game will begin a stretch in which Northwestern (5-1) will play nine of its last 10 regular season games at home – six of which will be against top-20 opponents.

Despite the Cats’ upcoming stiff competition, NU players are not too concerned with the polls.

“We all kind of pay attention to the rankings, but as a team, we don’t really care what we’re ranked,” sophomore Hannah Nielsen said. “We know how we’re playing and if we want to play better. So the rankings are just numbers to us. It’s nice to be considered No. 1, but it’s more about how we think we’re playing.”

FACE-OFF FOCUS

Wednesday’s practice placed a heavy emphasis on opening draws, something that Amonte Hiller sees as pivotal to any team’s success.

“It’s such an important thing, and we’re trying to make it our greatest strength,” Amonte Hiller said. “In the past it has been, and I think we haven’t done as well as we would like. We’re about 50 percent in our averages, so we want to try to bump that up significantly.”

Kjellman controls most of the team’s faceoffs along with sophomores Meredith Frank and Ali Jacobs. The Cats have won 71 of 142 draws this season.

Controlling draws will be vital to keep the ball away from the Cats’ next opponent, Syracuse. The Orange have averaged 18.75 goals during their current four-game win streak.

QUICK HITS

NU leads the NCAA in scoring margin (10) and scoring defense (5.3). … Sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop is second in the nation in both goals-against-average (5.2) and save percentage (.634). … With 287 total points, Kjellman needs two more to tie and three to break the Cats’ all-time record of 289, which is currently held by Kate Oleykowski.

Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]