Women’s Lacrosse: Wildcats continue winning ways over spring break

Rohan Nadkarni

Spring break was no time for rest for No. 1 Northwestern (9-0, 1-0 ALC), which continued its undefeated tear through the season. In eight days, the Wildcats toppled three more teams, including wins over two top-20 squads and a conference opponent.

On March 17, NU won the second game of a four-game homestand against No. 19 Massachusetts, 19-7. The win was punctuated by senior attacker Shannon Smith, who returned from an injury suffered in a match against William & Mary to notch six goals against the Minutewomen.

The game was over early, as the Cats took a 10-goal lead into halftime and never looked back. Also aiding the effort against Massachusetts was sophomore Kara Mupo, who overcame her own injury troubles from the beginning of the year to score five points on three goals and two assists.

NU continued their stay at home with their conference opener against No. 11 Vanderbilt, cruising to a 13-6 victory against the Commodores. In addition to the Cats’ defense holding Vanderbilt to under 10 goals, goalie Brianne LoManto recorded a season-high 10 saves against NU’s conference foe.

Along with a Smith hat trick, junior midfielder Erin Fitzgerald scored four goals against the Commodores, and junior defender Taylor Thornton pitched in three of her own.

On Sunday, NU concluded its four-game homestand with a romp over Navy. The Cats defeated the Midshipmen 20-8 with an overpowering offensive attack.

Smith and Mupo scored five times and Fitzgerald added four goals. NU recorded 43 shots against Navy – the most in any game this season.

NU’s dominance has been the result of disciplined play on both sides of the ball. The offense has yet to score fewer than 11 goals in a game all season, while the defense has yet to allow more than nine in any contest. The Cats won their last three games by a combined margin of 31 goals.

NU’s defense has arguably been the best in the country. The Cats have the number one scoring defense in the nation, allowing only 6.33 goals per game.

Massachusetts and Navy, who are currently ranked sixth and seventh respectively in scoring at just more than 15 goals per game, scored only 15 goals combined against NU.

The offense, led by Smith, is ranked fourth in the country, scoring 16 goals per game. Smith, last year’s Tewaaraton Award winner, is averaging 3.56 goals per game and is on pace to break NU’s all-time scoring record.

With spring break and four straight home games behind them, the Cats will now look ahead to a three-game road trip. The trip starts Saturday in New England, where NU will take on conference rival Ohio State at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

After returning from the trip, which also includes two games in Pennsylvania, NU will return home to face No. 3 North Carolina.

The toughest game remaining on the Cats’ schedule is arguably an April 21 battle against No. 5 Florida.

The Gators have proven themselves to be nearly equal to NU statistically. Florida ranks second in scoring defense, only .17 goals behind the Cats at 6.50 goals allowed per game. The Gators have also outscored the Cats this year, ranking number one in scoring offense at 16.42 goals per game.

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