Lacrosse: Wildcats head east for conference matchup, defensive test

Ava Wallace, Assistant Sports Editor

In the second half of its Wednesday night home opener at Lakeside Field, Northwestern tied Boston College for draw controls and, subsequently, goals scored.

The Wildcats are first in the nation for draw controls per game. Boston College ranks 16th, but the Cats’ next opponent, Johns Hopkins, ranks second. 

So despite junior midfielder Alyssa Leonard’s 41 draw controls so far this season — she ranks second in the nation for draw controls per game — Johns Hopkins may pose some problems for the Cats.

No. 4 NU (4-1, 1-0 ALC) faces No. 12 Johns Hopkins (4-0, 0-0) on Saturday in its second conference matchup this season and Navy (5-0) on Monday afternoon.

The Cats’ first game of the weekend pits great defense against great offense. NU has been working on its transition and midfield game lately, but it is the squad’s characteristically powerful defense that often anchors the Cats.

Although coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said she wanted her team to work on discipline on defense after its exhibition matches against Team England and Team USA at the end of January, NU has been able to hold its opponents to an average 17.6 shots per game, while it averages 33 shots per game. Amonte Hiller also changed the team’s defense slightly after losing to North Carolina earlier in the season.

Senior midfielder Gabriella Flibotte played defense for the Cats against Boston College and had a landmark game that included 5 ground balls and 6 forced turnovers. But Flibotte, if she stays at defense, and the rest of NU’s backfield will have their hands full with Johns Hopkins efficient offense.

The Bluejays have the No. 3 scoring offense in the nation and rank sixth in the nation for ground balls per game. Johns Hopkins has also had a dominant season so far. With the exception of their most recent game against rival team Loyola Baltimore, which the Bluejays won 11-8, the team has won all of its games by at least 10 goals.

Navy will also be a defensive test for the Cats — the Midshipmen rank eighth in the nation for scoring offense. Navy boasts a quartet of formidable attackmen. Jasmine DePompeo, Kathy Young, Loren Generi and Aimee Gennaro are Navy’s big guns and have combined for 63 of their team’s 81 total goals so far this season.