As No. 6 Northwestern enters its fourth week of the season and looks ahead to No. 2 North Carolina on Saturday, there are a few patterns coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s squad is settling into.
The Wildcats (3-1) depend on freshman Selena Lasota for the bulk of their tallies against teams both formidable and less imposing. The midfielder scored 5 of NU’s 9 goals in a 15-9 loss to Duke that dropped NU one slot in the rankings and followed that performance with a 6-goal game at unranked Marquette on Saturday.
Lasota also caused six turnovers at Marquette and swept the Big Ten Lacrosse weekly accolades, earning her second Big Ten Freshman of the Week and first Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor.
The freshman – who, as a reminder, has been playing field lacrosse for less than a year – leads NU with 17 goals in four games, tied for third-most goals in the NCAA. She sits just behind Ohio State’s Katie Chase, who has 18 goals in four games, and Syracuse’s Kayla Treanor, who has 21 goals in five games. The other two players with 17 goals so far have played five games each.
Despite Lasota pacing the team, NU is still struggling to find consistency in the circle.
Amonte Hiller shouldered her share of the responsibility after Duke won 17 draws to the Cats’ nine.
“We’ve been on the winning edge of that over many years, and we’ve got to figure it out,” Amonte Hiller said after losing to Duke. “It’s on me to continue to help mentor these kids, and it’s on them to continue to step up and challenge themselves.”
NU then beat unranked Marquette 12-9 on the draw.
The Cats now travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, before settling in at home for the entire month of March.
North Carolina (3-1) is NU’s third ACC opponent in the last two weeks and perhaps has the most dangerous squad of the group.
NU pulled out a tough 7-5 win against North Carolina in Evanston last year, but the most memorable matchup in recent history was the team’s 2013 contest, when the Tar Heels ended the Cats’ championship run in the semifinal round en route to a national title.
North Carolina has an offense like a Swiss Army knife, with 13 goal scorers so far this season and a run-and-gun attack that led to easy wins over No. 4 Florida, No. 19 James Madison and High Point.
The Tar Heels’ lone blemish on the schedule was a 13-11 loss to Maryland on Saturday.
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