No. 1 Seed Poised To Take ALC (Women’s Lacrosse)

Wade Askew

FIRST ROUND

No. 5 Penn State (8-7, 0-4 American Lacrosse Conference) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (9-6, 1-3)

In the first ever ALC tournament game, the conference’s bottom two teams will play for the right to meet No. 1 Northwestern in the semifinals.

The last time these two teams met, Ohio State scored a last-second goal off the stick of junior Jessica Patane to upset then-No. 8 Penn State 9-8 at home.

That loss was part of a four-game skid that ended the Nittany Lions’ season. But all four of those defeats came against ranked opponents, including NU and a 10-9 loss to then-No. 2 Maryland.

But this time Penn State will exact revenge on the Buckeyes in another close game. In the teams’ last contest, Ohio State was somehow able to overcome a 14-4 draw control deficit to win. This time, they will not be so fortunate.

Penn State will again dominate the draws and reverse the score of the first contest, 9-8.

Daily Pick: Penn State

SEMIFINALS

No. 3 Johns Hopkins (10-6, 2-2) vs. No. 2 Vanderbilt (11-4, 3-1)

Similar to the Penn Sate/Ohio State matchup, Hopkins and Vanderbilt come in evenly matched with one team looking to avenge a narrow one-point loss.

Vanderbilt won the last contest at home 11-10 in double overtime. But this time, they will play on Hopkins’ home turf.

Led by the nation’s point leader, Mary Key (6.73 per game), the Blue Jays are winners of four of their last five since falling to Vandy, including a 12-9 victory over No. 3 Virginia, the Atlantic Coast Conference champions. The only loss came to NU.

Key and the Hopkins offense will put up points against a mediocre Vanderbilt in a 15-13 win that earns them a ticket to the ALC championship game.

Daily Pick: Johns Hopkins

No. 5 Penn State vs. No. 1 Northwestern (15-1, 5-0)

Penn State is simply over-matched against the Cats. NU beat Penn State 19-8 in mid-April, and there is no reason to believe the result will be any different this time around.

NU just has too many options on offense, notably sophomore attacker Hannah Nielsen. Currently just two assists from Lindsey Munday’s school record of 54 dimes in a season. Nielsen will break the record as NU hits the 20-goal mark for the fifth time this season. The Cats will roll, 20-6.

Daily Pick: NU

FINAL

No. 3 Johns Hopkins vs No. 1 NU

This championship game will be a warmup to the NCAA title NU really wants to win, and the final score will reflect that.

Despite winning draw controls 14-5 and out-shooting the Cats 39-29 in their last matchup in Baltimore, the Blue Jays still fell 12-5. In that game, senior Kristen Kjellman began her current hot streak with a five-goal effort.

Since then, she has taken over both the team lead and school career record for goals. Along with fellow Teewaraton Award finalists Nielsen and sophomore Meredith Frank, Kjellman has led the top-ranked NU offense to an average of 16.25 goals per game.

On defense, junior Christy Finch and senior Lindsay Finocchiaro will be able to shut down Key, who accounts for half of the Hopkins offense. Sophomore goalie Morgan Lathrop backs them up as the nation’s leading goalie both in goals against average and save percentage.

In the end, NU has too many threats for Hopkins to contend with. Combine that with improved draw controls and the motivation of a top seed in the NCAA tournament, and the Cats will cruise once again, 16-7.

Daily Pick: NU

– compiled by WADE ASKEW