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Lacrosse: Wildcats prepare for titanic rematch against Terrapins

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Shelby Fredericks battles for a draw control Sunday against Notre Dame. The freshman leads Northwestern with 66 wins in the circle.

Shelby Fredericks battles for a draw control Sunday against Notre Dame. The freshman leads Northwestern with 66 wins in the circle.

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Shelby Fredericks battles for a draw control Sunday against Notre Dame. The freshman leads Northwestern with 66 wins in the circle.

Ava Wallace, Reporter

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Lacrosse


Here they are again.

Here again is No. 8 Northwestern (14-6, 3-2 Big Ten), arriving in style on the heels of two dominant performances over Ohio State and Notre Dame, knocking on the door of its 11th consecutive NCAA Championship weekend.

Here they are again — that other “they,” the almost perfect No. 1 Maryland (18-1, 5-0), standing for the fifth time in the past six years between the Wildcats and a national championship, this time in the quarterfinals.

The Sunday matchup in College Park, Maryland, is an appropriately high-stakes occasion for a historic rivalry that before this year existed almost entirely in the postseason. Since 2010, NU and Maryland have played each other twice in the national championship game and twice in the semifinals. The Terrapins edge the Cats in the team’s overall record, 9-6. The addition of the Big Ten lacrosse league gave fans the first regular-season taste of the competition, but the Terrapins’ 16-5 whomping of the then-flailing Wildcats has since remained the chip on NU’s shoulder.

The players are looking forward to another shot at coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s alma mater. Junior Kaleigh Craig said the key to winning the Maryland rematch is belief, and NU’s mantra after the second-round win against Notre Dame was “play fearlessly.”

Easier said than done. On paper, the Cats have a lot to be afraid of.

The Terrapins haven’t lost in College Park all season. Reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Taylor Cummings is fifth in draw controls with 130 on the season — she beat NU 18-5 in the circle in the regular season — and tied for fifth in the nation for points.

Freshman Megan Whittle is ninth in the nation for goals per game with 63, and led Maryland with five goals the last time the two teams met.

That said, this NU squad is different than the team that lost to the Terrapins on March 26. Freshman Shelby Fredericks is credited with much of the Cats’ marked improvement on the draw circle, and Craig and freshman Selena Lasota are more dangerous than ever at attack, putting in 16 of NU’s 26 goals in the NCAA tournament so far. Lasota bests Whittle’s goal total by 4.

In all, the rematch is a pressure-filled situation — and a sweet opportunity — for a Cats team with something to prove.

All but one of NU’s six losses this season have come from other teams in the quarterfinals; to make it to championship weekend would mean a shot at both vengeance and restitution.
NU believes it can pull off the upset. Maryland has seemed championship-bound since April.

Here we go again.

Email: avawallace2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AvaRWallace

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