Lacrosse: Northwestern picks up crucial ranked win behind late heroics of Kaleigh Craig


Sam Schumacher/The Daily Northwestern

Kaleigh Craig navigates through several Stony Brook defenders. The senior midfielder scored the game-winning goal for Northwestern.

Dan Waldman, Reporter


It appears no one told Northwestern March madness was reserved for basketball, as the Wildcats defeated Stony Brook in a pivotal ranked matchup.

In a contest pitting two of the nation’s top teams against one another, No. 11 NU (3-3) eked out a 7-6 win over No. 10 Stony Brook (2-2) on Saturday. The teams were tied with just over 8 minutes remaining in the game, when senior midfielder Kaleigh Craig netted her 12th goal of the season on a quick self start. The win is the second consecutive for the Cats after falling victim to a three-game losing streak earlier in the year.

Following a late foul, senior midfielder Nancy Dunbar scooped up the ball and immediately found Craig cutting to the goal. The Seawolves never got the chance to set up their defense.

“It was a self start and they were not ready for it so we took advantage,” Craig said. “Nancy (Dunbar) was really heads up which was important.”

But prior to Craig’s goal, the Cats were in trouble.

With just over 13 minutes remaining and the game still tied at 6, Stony Brook won a draw at half field and the Seawolves found a streaking Taylor Ranftle with no one but the goalkeeper to beat. But senior midfielder Lauren Murray chased Ranftle down from the top of the circle and threw a game-changing check to stop her before she could fire off a point-blank shot.

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller called the turnover one of the biggest plays of the game.

“It was huge, I think on the sideline we were all holding our breath,” Amonte Hiller said. “And then Lauren came in and she just got tremendous speed and she had the will and she was able to get the check off.”

The Cats outshot the Seawolves 26-12 and dominated possession for the entirety of the game. NU’s defense held Stony Brook to a mere three shots in the second half, and freshman goalie Mallory Weisse only faced eight shots on goal the entire game.

Along with dominating offensively, the team also excelled at draw controls, winning 13-2 in the game. Craig said the team came in with a gameplan on offense and stuck to it.

“We were trying to really possess the ball and be calm,” Craig said. “I know in some past games we rushed our offense quite a bit and we finally settled in so that was really important for us, and draw controls.”

Prior to Saturday’s win, the team dropped its previous three matches against ranked opponents.

The Cats started the season strong, defeating then-No.4 Duke on the road, but the team then went on to lose against then-No.10 Virginia, then-No.2 Syracuse and then-No.12 Louisville, allowing a combined 36 goals.

Following the string of losses, Amonte Hiller said she considered this win crucial for the team.

“I didn’t say it was a must win, but in the back of my head I was like ‘this would be a great win if we could get it.,’” Amonte Hiller said. “Stony Brook is a great team and they’re contenders, they can play with anyone on any given day.”

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