Lacrosse: Northwestern to face offensive powerhouse Syracuse on Sunday


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Christina Esposito cradles the ball in her stick. The junior has tallied three assists thus far in the 2016 season.

Dan Waldman, Reporter


The Wildcats won’t be escaping the cold this weekend, as the team treks to upstate New York for a top-five matchup with familiar foe Syracuse.

No. 5 Northwestern (1-1) takes on the No. 2 Orange (4-0) on Sunday after spending a lengthy two-week break recovering from a disappointing 10-8 loss to then-No.10 Virginia (2-1). Syracuse is the third straight top-10 opponent the Cats will face, and Syracuse has averaged an impressive 14.5 goals per contest in its first four games of the season.

Despite Syracuse’s high-powered offense, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said the team will not change its defensive scheme to stymie the Orange’s attackers.

“They are obviously a very potent offense,” Amonte Hiller said. “We are just going to focus on ourselves and play our game. You have to be aware they have a lot of weapons, but you can’t particularly focus on one … we are just going to have to play good team defense.”

NU has taken 59 shots in its first two games, with sophomore midfielder Selena Lasota contributing 25. After taking 16 shots in the Cats’ opening game against Duke, Lasota could only get off nine attempts against the Cavaliers.

The sophomore led the team with 69 goals last season and is now the focus of NU’s offense, but the Cats’ opponents are taking notice. In NU’s last game against Virginia, five different players scored, and Amonte Hiller said the Cats are trying to make everyone a threat.

“That’s definitely something we’ve been working on, and we need to continue to do better at that,” Amonte Hiller said. “Everyone needs to step up especially if they’re going to try to shut off Selena. That just makes everyone else’s job that much easier.”

Along with the Orange’s lethal offense — which boasts three players on the 2016 Tewaaraton Award watch list — Syracuse has held its opponents to 5.5 goals per game.

Against Virginia, NU finished the first half down 5-3, and senior attacker Kaleigh Craig said the Cats will have to start the scoring early Sunday to come away with a better result than their last match.

“It’s going to take coming out strong right from the beginning,” Craig said. “Last game we didn’t do that as well, and we really have been focusing on that for these two weeks off.”

The Cats are currently  on pace to face six ranked opponents in their first seven matches. And during the stretch, NU will not have a home game until it hosts Marquette on March 8, just one week before the University’s exam week.

However, Amonte Hiller said the team is pleased with its schedule and she said she thinks it will be a good gauge of where the team needs to improve.

“We are more aware of what level we need to play at,” Amonte Hiller said. “Obviously it’s tough because we’re coming off of a loss and that stinks, but I think it’s a good thing to kind of find yourself and figure out things earlier than later in the season.”

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