Lacrosse: Northwestern racks up two wins out West

Joseph Diebold, Web Editor

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The defending national champions kicked off their season in first gear over the weekend, blowing out Massachusetts and Southern California in Los Angeles.

No. 1 Northwestern (2-0) never trailed against the No. 14 Minutemen (1-1) and the Trojans (0-2), who welcomed the Wildcats to L.A. Coliseum for their debut as a Division 1 program.

Senior Taylor Thornton, the reigning American Lacrosse Conference player of the year, opened the scoring 70 seconds into Friday’s 16-4 victory over UMass at McAlister Field, while junior Kelly Rich tallied four goals and senior Amanda Macaluso added three more to lead the Cats. In her first start replacing the departed Brianne LoManto, sophomore Bridget Bianco recorded six saves in her first career victory.

Macaluso, senior Ali Cassera and junior Christy Turner all scored in the final 90 seconds of the first half to send the Cats into the break up 9-2, and junior Alyssa Leonard, Rich, Macaluso and Thornton all scored in the first 12 minutes of the second to put the game away.

NU was back in action the next day against an old friend.

Coached by Lindsay Munday — who played at NU from 2003 to 2006 and later became a Cats assistant coach — USC hosted the first-ever lacrosse game at the Coliseum. But NU ruined the party, scoring 9 of the first 10 goals and going into halftime up 11-2. Senior Erin Fitzgerald and junior Kat DeRonda each scored in the first two minutes of the second half, putting the Cats up 10 and establishing a running clock the rest of the way.

Leonard set an NU record and tied an NCAA one with 15 draw controls against the Trojans.

As she begins her 12th season at NU, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller celebrated her 198th career win against USC. She will go for 200 next weekend when the Cats battle North Carolina and Vanderbilt before returning to Evanston for their March 6 home opener against Boston College.

— Joseph Diebold