Lacrosse: Northwestern tops Canisius in season opener


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Christina Esposito cradles the ball. The senior scored four goals in Northwestern’s season opener.

Talia Hendel, Reporter


Northwestern entered 2017 looking to re-establish itself as a powerhouse. On Monday, it wasted little time demonstrating its scoring prowess.

Just 20 seconds into the season opener against Canisius, senior attacker Christina Esposito netted her first of four goals, setting the stage for the Wildcats’ eventual 9-7 victory.

After the hot start, NU (1-0) continued to attack aggressively and appeared to have early control until opposing attacker Jourdan Roemer responded with a goal of her own. However, NU’s offensive urgency and defensive pressure never faltered, as it dominated the Golden Griffins (0-1) down the stretch to secure the win.

NU arrived at its victory by dominating draws throughout the game, winning the draw control battle 17-1 and firing off more than twice as many shots as its opponent.

“You win the draw, you win the game,” Esposito said. “You win the draw, you have more possessions, so that definitely helped us.”

With 18 minutes left in the half, Canisius got its first lead of the game. But junior attacker Corinne Wessels scored less than four minutes later, tying the game for the Cats.

Wessel’s free-position shot was one of seven free-position opportunities for NU, stemming from 42 fouls called on the Golden Griffins, three of which were yellow cards.

The visitors scored again, but the Cats retook the lead after goals from senior midfielder Catie Ingrilli and junior attacker Selena Lasota.

Lasota was forced to fight hard throughout the game in order to break past Canisius, particularly when the Golden Griffins implemented a box-and-one zone defense to slow her down.

Canisius netted another goal, tying the score just before halftime. It took that momentum into the second half, scoring a quick goal and taking a 5-4 lead.

It would be the last time the Golden Griffins led.

“It was good for us,” Wessels said of the early second-period deficit. “It showed us some adversity, and that it’s not going to be easy and that we have a lot of work to do.”

The Cats took over behind three goals by Esposito and three assists by Wessels, as well as scoring contributions from senior attacker Danita Stroup and sophomore attacker Ellie Yenor.

Wessels praised Esposito’s play after the game.

“She is just a beast,” Wessels said. “She finds a way to finish all the time. I just trust her.”

Though the story of the game was NU’s unrelenting offense, Canisius goalie Rebecca VanLaeken had an impressive 16-save performance, keeping the visitors in the game.

But ultimately, it was the Cats’ day. Despite pushes by the Golden Griffins’ offense, NU responded with poise and started their season off with a win.

“They got the first goal (in the second half) … I was happy with how we responded to that,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “We got a little run going there. Any time you can get a run going it makes a big difference.”

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