Lacrosse: Lasota, Nesselbush lead Cats in season-opening win over Duke


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Selena Lasota cradles the ball. The sophomore, Northwestern’s leading scorer from last year, led the Cats on Sunday with five goals.

Dan Waldman, Reporter


Junior Sheila Nesselbush started a barrage of scoring for the Wildcats in the team’s season-opener against Duke on Sunday.

Nesselbush sliced through the Blue Devils’ defense, slipping past two defenders, before receiving a Corinne Wessels bullet pass from behind the cage. She threw her stick to the ground and hugged her teammates.

Northwestern had its first lead of the game, but its lead didn’t last long.

Sunday was filled with lead changes and missed opportunities. The teams were tied five times during the game and exchanged leads twice, but the No. 5 Cats (1-0) recorded an 11-8 victory over No. 4 Duke (0-1), knocking off one of team’s toughest opponents of the season.

The Blue Devils responded quickly following Nesselbush’s goal, scoring two unanswered by feeding the crease.  Freshman goalie Mallory Weisse had a strong performance in goal, but Duke’s point-blank opportunities were too much for the young goalkeeper to stop.

But then, with the teams tied at two, sophomore Selena Lasota took over, leading the way with five goals in the win.

“When you do go down, it’s always a bit more of that fire,” Lasota said. “From the start, our team was just very, very excited and we came out strong and had to fight back together. We had to know that we all trusted each other.”

For her first goal, Lasota received the ball at the “X” position behind the cage, faking right and then splitting to her left. Lasota dashed toward the top of the restraining box, rolled back and slipped a backhanded shot past the Blue Devils’ goalie. The teams were tied again.

The Cats’ offense didn’t shoot well to start the game and missed opportunities finishing on the crease, but the Lasota-Nesselbush tandem carried NU to victory and proved problematic for Duke’s zone defense all game.

Nesselbush destroyed Duke’s close-defense, cutting to the crease nearly every time the ball was behind the goal. She finished the game with three goals, complementing Lasota well.

“It feels amazing because we put in so much hard work building up to this game,” Nesselbush said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates because if they’re not dodging hard, drawing their defenders and looking up, then they’re not going to hit me on my cuts.”

NU went into halftime with a narrow 6-5 lead, but came out on fire in the second half, scoring two quick goals. The Blue Devils couldn’t keep pace with the Cats’ lethal speed and stick skills, and Weisse bailed the team out with several critical saves down the stretch, recording eight in the game.

The win gives NU a strong start to a difficult stretch of its schedule, including back-to-back games against No. 10 Virginia and No. 3 Syracuse. Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said the team really set the tone for the season with the win.  

“We’re excited about the win, but tomorrow is a new day, and we’ve got a great team in Virginia to prepare for next week,” she said. “We are just going to take it one game at a time. That’s got to be out mentality.”

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