Lacrosse: Craig scores 6 in Senior Day rout of Rutgers


Keshia Johnson/The Daily Staffer

Kaleigh Craig weaves around the defense. The senior led the Wildcats with 6 goals in the last regular-season home game of her career.

Claire Hansen, Reporter


With 22:33 left in the game, senior midfielder Kaleigh Craig lined up on the 8-meter fan, the ball cradled in her poised stick. Exploding off the hash mark as the whistle sounded, Craig took a few deliberate steps and snapped her stick quickly in front of her body. The ball rocketed past several Rutgers defenders and the goalie’s outstretched stick, slapping against the back of the goal.

It was the last regular-season goal that Craig will ever score at home.

No. 12 Northwestern (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten) cruised to a 20-9 victory over Rutgers (3-11, 0-3) at Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium on Sunday on a sunny and clear Senior Day. The victory, led by a cadre of seniors, pushed the Wildcats back to .500 after a critical loss to No. 6 USC on Friday.

“Today was a great opportunity to just work on honing in our skills,” senior midfielder Spring Sanders said. “It was coming together as team and putting pressure on another team and really just seeing what we can do together as a group.”

Freshman attacker Leighton Yenor scored 2 goals in the first two minutes of the matchup, and from there, it was all NU.

Dominating in all three phases of the game, the Cats quickly built up a decisive lead. By the end of the first half the Cats led 15-4, forcing a running clock, which occurs whenever a team is leading by more than 10. The time would be kept running for the remainder of the game.

Craig led the charge with a perfect 6 goals off 6 shots, including 3 free-position shots. Craig also scooped up 2 of NU’s 21 ground balls and tied for a team-high 2 caused turnovers.

“(Rutgers was playing) one-on-one defense, so it’s a little different from a lot of zones we’ve been playing,” Craig said. “I’ve just been trying to go hard and I’ve been working on shooting a lot, so I’m happy with that today.”

Sophomore midfielder Selena Lasota followed Craig with a hat trick, including a highlight-reel-worthy, behind-the-back goal shot from a seemingly impossible angle. Lasota’s second goal of the day was her 100th career goal.

Senior midfielder Lauren Murray also had a successful Senior Day, tallying 2 goals for the Cats — her first 2 of the season. Senior defender Emily Eichner contributed to the win as well, scoring the first goal of her career. All seniors saw playing time on Sunday.

NU was especially dominant on its ride, limiting Rutgers to just 11 of its 17 attempted clears. Once the Cats got the ball back from the Scarlet Knights, they were often quick to drive to goal, tallying an impressive 38 shots.

Sanders said that getting the ball back on the ride was all about relentlessness.

“I think just kind of honing in on body defense, focusing on positioning and just locking in and going in with all of your heart is what we focused on today,” Sanders said.

NU was successful particularly in drawing and capitalizing on free-position shots, usually forcing Rutgers into a shooting space penalty. The Cats scored on 4 of their 8 free-position shots, while Rutgers was 0-3 comparatively.

After the game, Amonte Hiller said she was happy with the way the seniors stepped up in their last regular season home game.

“(The senior class) is fantastic,” said coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, who earned her 250th career win Sunday. “I saw (today) that they really played for each other, and I think the other kids played for them too.”

The story was updated to clarify the running clock rule at 11:30 p.m.

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Twitter: @clairechansen