Women’s Lacrosse: Elite Cats come home to elite field

Jimmy Mitchell

The past three years have been a Renaissance for Northwestern lacrosse. And with three consecutive national championships under NU’s belt, the Wildcats are set to debut their version of Sistine Chapel.

NU (3-0) will battle Duquesne (1-5) at 4 p.m. Friday at the new Lakeside Field, located on the Evanston campus. The stadium boasts permanent stands, a FieldTurf playing surface and overhead field lights.

Playing at such a facility will improve the Cats’ already peerless lacrosse program, said junior attacker Hilary Bowen.

“I think (the new stadium) is awesome, not only for our team but for every team that gets to play on it and for the fans as well,” Bowen said. “It’s a great facility. It shows that the sport’s growing at the school and out in the Midwest as a whole.”

Lakeside Field will host all of NU’s home games during the Cats’ drive for a fourth straight national title. Despite the loss of Aly Josephs and Kristen Kjellman to graduation, NU has picked up where it left off last season, extending its winning streak to 24.

The Cats have outscored their opponents 59-17 to start the season and have justified their preseason No. 1 ranking. But the players recognize that despite their recent domination of the lacrosse world, they cannot become complacent.

“We definitely feel pressure,” Bowen said. “It’s hard not to in that situation, but I think at the same time it’s good and it keeps you on your toes.”

NU’s early-season schedule is considered relatively light, but the Cats will face much tougher opposition as the 2008 campaign progresses. Nine top-25 teams are scheduled to take on the Cats and attempt to derail the NU juggernaut.

But the team is taking it one day at a time.

“We just have to focus on that one game and that particular moment and try to play our best at that particular time,” Bowen said.

And the Cats will do so at a facility that appears to be built for a champion.

[email protected]