Lacrosse: Wildcats face Michigan in must-win Big Ten Tournament opener


Daily file photo by Keishia Johnson

Shelby Fredericks battles for a draw control. The sophomore attacker scored 3 goals in Northwestern’s last game.

Dan Waldman, Assistant Sports Editor


The Big Ten Tournament will be played in its entirety in Evanston this weekend, so for Northwestern, it’s win or go back to your dorm.

The No. 3-seed Wildcats (8-8, 3-2 Big Ten) will take on sixth-seeded Michigan (6-11, 0-5) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in a must-win game for NU. The team has to finish the regular season and Big Ten Tournament with a combined record of at least .500 to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

The Cats last played the Wolverines in early April, recording a commanding 20-4 win — the largest victory of margin for the team this season.

But coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said her squad is not going to rest on its laurels heading into Thursday’s matchup.

“We understand the situation is do or die for both teams — for us and for them,” Amonte Hiller said. “Nobody is going to roll over, we are going to have to fight and play our best and we’re expecting their best in a close game. We know that we are going to have to scratch and claw for every opportunity we are going to get.”

Thursday will not be the first time NU faces the pressure of a must-win scenario. Last week the team dominated Ohio State in a 22-13 blowout. Had the Cats lost to the Buckeyes, the team would have had to win the entire Big Ten Tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Sophomore attacker Shelby Fredericks, who leads the team in draw controls, said the team has faced pressure to win throughout the season because of the team’s remarkably difficult schedule.

“For the past few games we’ve been playing with our season on the line and hoping to get to .500,” Fredericks said. “We’ve shown that we thrive under pressure and this is a great opportunity to show the adversity we’ve faced this season, and how much fire it has given us and how pissed off we are.”

Despite Fredericks scoring 3 goals last week against Ohio State, the sophomore only recorded 1 draw control. Sophomore standout Selena Lasota took over for Fredericks at the draw circle and won 6 draw controls in her place.

Freshman goalkeeper Mallory Weisse said the best way for the team to alleviate the pressure on the defense is to control the draws against Michigan on Thursday. She said draw controls will be imperative for the team to come away with a win and will help NU manage the game’s tempo.

“It’s win a draw control, win the game,” Weisse said. “It’s really important especially if the ball comes out of your stick — keeping possession and just holding it — because when we have the possession they can’t score.”

In the Cats’ last game against Michigan the team was coming off of a tough overtime loss to then-No.16 Penn. Prior to defeating the Wolverines, NU had dropped three of its previous four games, including two losses in overtime.

Fredericks said the team has to use the same fire it had after its loss to the Quakers again on Thursday.

“Last time we played our Penn game before Michigan so we kind of had a fire lit under us coming from that game,” Fredericks said. “We just need to keep that chip on our shoulder and know that we’ve done absolutely nothing this season — everyone besides the people in our locker room expect very little from us. There is no complacency here.”

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