Lacrosse: Northwestern looks to build on momentum into battle against Virginia

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Daily file photo by Brian Lee

After falling behind 7-0 to USC in the team’s season opener, No. 5 Northwestern rallied for a 12-11 victory. The Wildcats can’t be as sloppy early on against No. 7 Virginia, but coach Kelly Amonte Hiller was upbeat about the team’s play.

Ava Wallace, Reporter


Lacrosse


If Northwestern’s season opener was any indication, the Wildcats might need time to work out the kinks in their reshuffled roster.

It took the Cats 26 minutes to get on the board against Southern California in a thrilling 12-11 overtime win, but the slow start doesn’t worry coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. She’s hoping that momentum — nine goals in 25 minutes against USC — carries over into No. 5 NU’s matchup against No. 7 Virginia this Saturday in Kennesaw, Georgia.

“I think that we sparked our aggressiveness a little bit towards the end of the USC game, the last 25 minutes we were really aggressive,” Amonte Hiller said. “I think that was a good thing for us, we’re coming into this game with a little bit more confidence.”

The Cats (1-0) heavily relied on senior attacker Kara Mupo and freshman midfielder Selena Lasota in Los Angeles.

The pair combined for nine of NU’s 12 goals in the victory, and the two players were rewarded for their effort. Mupo earned the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Week honor and Lasota was the league’s Freshman of the Week.

Inside Lacrosse magazine also named Mupo its National Player of the Week, and Lasota nabbed the National Rookie of the Week title.

Although Mupo, Lasota and a handful of other attackers, including freshman Shelby Fredericks, can clearly take control when NU’s settled offense is lagging, it’s the Cats’ defense that’s going to have to come together against the Cavaliers.

Virginia returns nine starters this season after last year ended with the program’s first trip to the NCAA Semifinals since 2007. In that starting lineup are All-American seniors Liza Blue, Courtney Swan and Morgan Stephens, the three of whom combined for nine of Virginia’s 12 goals in the Cats’ 13-12 win over the Cavaliers in 2014.

Swan, who along with Stephens was a member of the 2014-2015 US Women’s National Team, is also a dangerous threat at center. She ended last season ranked 15th in the nation for draw controls, averaging 4.57 per game.

“It’s similar to what we faced at USC,” Amonte Hiller said. “They have a very experienced team, all of their players are coming back and I think for Virginia having gone to the Final Four, that’s like a whole other level of experience. I think they’re hungry.”

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Twitter: @AvaRWallace

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