Lacrosse: Weisse, Lasota lead No. 4 Wildcats into telling matchup against No. 10 Virginia


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Sheila Nesselbush runs with the ball. The junior midfielder helped the Wildcats defeat Duke last weekend, scoring 3 goals.

Dan Waldman, Reporter


Following a disappointing season last year in which the Wildcats did not reach the Final Four for the first time since 2004, Northwestern started the season off strong with a convincing performance at Duke.

The No. 4 Cats (1-0) recorded a commanding 11-8 victory against the then-No.4 Blue Devils (1-1) in the season opener last Sunday. Sophomore midfielder Selena Lasota scored 5 goals and freshman goalie Mallory Weisse held Duke to just 3 scores in the last 43 minutes of the game.

Now, NU is gearing up for another ranked showdown with No. 10 Virginia on Saturday in Kennesaw, Georgia, in the Cobb County Classic. Last year, the Cats defeated the Cavaliers in a narrow 6-5 win when then-sophomore Sheila Nesselbush scored with only 3 minutes remaining in the game.

NU coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said she knows what Virginia is capable of and is anticipating another grueling game.

“I think that (Duke) was a big win for us … but that’s over and now we have another great team that we’re playing this week.” Amonte Hiller said. “ Virginia is always tough … they have great talent top to bottom and they always reload with amazing recruits. We are really focused in on this week. Last week is over.”

Last season, the Cavaliers’ defense held the Cats to only 6 goals — with then-junior Kaleigh Craig, Nesselbush and Lasota all chipping in 2 each. But NU’s offense was lively and relentless last weekend, and, at least in the season opener, more players are contributing to the scoring. Against Duke, the Cats had four different players score and seven players fired shots.

As a result of NU’s decisive win over the Blue Devils, the team moved up one spot in the IWLCA rankings. Lasota was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, and Weisse was awarded the National Rookie of the Week honor by Inside Lacrosse in just her first collegiate appearance.

This is only the second time Lasota has garnered this award, but the Cats’ leading scorer said she isn’t letting the accolade get in the way of preparing for Virginia.

“It feels pretty good,” Lasota said. “But I’m looking forward to playing our next game. The last game is in the past now, and we are focusing on the present.”

While NU ran its offense through Lasota last game, Weisse commanded the suffocating defense that only allowed Duke to score 8 goals after scoring 20 in its last match. And several of the goals the Cats conceded came right on the crease in one-on-one opportunities with Weisse.

But the freshman goalkeeper said the defense forced Duke to work the ball around the field, and she couldn’t have asked of any more from her stifling defensive unit.

“We’re just going to play our game — our defense is so strong,” Weisse said. “We held them (Duke) to many long possessions, and that’s all you’re asking for. It’s really all about us at this point, and our defense can stop anyone.”

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