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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Lacrosse: The final countdown

This weekend in Towson, Md., the lacrosse world will witness a clash of titans.

No. 1 seed and three-time defending champion Northwestern faces off against the high-octane offense of No. 4 Syracuse in the semifinals of the NCAA lacrosse championship.

To make matters more intense, the teams have a history.

They met earlier this eason at Syracuse on March 24. The Orange played NU tough early, and the game was deadlocked 5-5 at halftime. But once the Wildcats returned for the second period, they took over.

NU scored 10 consecutive goals on its way to a 19-7 win, the worst loss of the season for the Orange.

Since the loss, Syracuse has won 11 straight games and leads the country in scoring with 18.51 goals-per-game. The Orange are sixth in scoring defense, allowing just 7.86 goals per contest.

The Cats, who are second in scoring defense with just 7.00 goals allowed per game, will need all they can get from their talented backfield to combat Syracuse’s high-scoring offense.

“We know their whole offense can’t be taken lightly, and their whole team is very dangerous,” junior Hannah Nielsen said.

Goalie Morgan Lathrop is second in the country with a 6.86 goals-against-average, just behind Penn’s Sarah Waxman. The junior hasn’t been as sharp as last year, when she recorded a 5.92 GAA and a .576 save percentage, but her defense is keeping shots away from the net.

Nielsen said that Lathrop’s play in net will be crucial to slowing down the Orange.

“(Lathrop) is pretty fired up for tomorrow’s game,” she said. “If the team defense plays well, then we’ll be well prepared.”

Led by the play of senior captain Christy Finch, the Cats are still confident their defense can stop the best in the game.

And like the Orange, NU has bounced back with a vengeance since its last loss.

After losing their first game in over a year, the Cats have crushed their four opponents by a combined score of 62-28, a number that would be much more lopsided had Princeton not scored a few late goals last Saturday.

Should the Cats prevent the Orange’s revenge and win Friday, they will not be surprised by either of the teams they might face in the final.

The humbling loss to tournament No. 2 seed Penn was a wakeup call that has galvanized NU. Playing on a neutral field, the Cats will want to prove the 11-7 loss in Philadelphia was a fluke.

“We are pretty excited about it,” Nielsen said of the possible rematch. “We have watched the game (tape) so many times, so it would be nice to win.”

While Syracuse’s strength lies in it dangerous attack, Penn leads the country in scoring defense and limited NU to just seven goals.

The Cats failed to score in the second half and watched the Quakers rally from a 7-4 deficit to win.

NU had better luck against Penn’s semifinal opponent, Duke. The Cats pulled off a 15-11 win despite trailing at halftime for the first time since the 2006 championship game.

The Blue Devils are the most surprising team in the Final Four. Not only does Duke have seven losses on the season, but it had to win both of its NCAA tournament games on the road.

Despite the talent in this year’s Final Four, the Cats should be confident because of their current situation and history – nobody has beaten them in the NCAA tournament since 2005.

Since then, the Cats have won 14 straight postseason games. And they are looking for wins 15 and 16.

“Everyone is out to get us,” junior Meredith Frank said. “We need to go out and play hard.”

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Lacrosse: The final countdown