The Daily Northwestern

Lacrosse: No. 9 Wildcats look ahead to 2018 season

Liza Elder looks to score. The junior and the Wildcats open the season with a pair of matches this weekend.

Liza Elder looks to score. The junior and the Wildcats open the season with a pair of matches this weekend.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Liza Elder looks to score. The junior and the Wildcats open the season with a pair of matches this weekend.

Ella Brockway, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story


It has been five seasons since Northwestern brought a national championship back to Evanston. That may not seem like a drought, but for a program with the Wildcats’ pedigree — 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, 10 Final Fours, seven national titles — five seasons is a long time.

Returning 10 of 12 starters and facing a competitive schedule that includes five NCAA quarterfinalists, this could be the year that NU stretches its season to Memorial Day weekend and the NCAA Final Four for the first time since 2014.

“Everyone knows our goal: to make it to the Final Four,” senior attacker Danita Stroup said. “And from there, do what we know (how) to do.”

The No. 9 Cats, who finished last season with an 11-10 (4-2 Big Ten) record and exited the 2017 NCAA Tournament with a second-round, 13-9 loss to Stony Brook, open their 2018 season this weekend with back-to-back games against Canisius on Saturday and Detroit Mercy on Sunday.

One of the biggest stories entering the season is the return of two-time All-Big Ten attacker Selena Lasota. The junior missed 17 games in 2017 with an injury after scoring 119 goals across her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Lasota, who was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2015, scored eight goals in four appearances for the Cats in 2017.

“It’s just exciting. I think that’s the only word that I can put to it,” Lasota said. “I’ve missed it so much, and to be able to play lacrosse and be out on the field playing with my team again is just phenomenal.”

Lasota isn’t the only key returnee for NU. Stroup, who scored 42 goals in 2017, was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA in July and brings depth and experience to an offense that graduated two of its top three leading scorers in Christina Esposito (45 goals) and Catie Ingrilli (28 goals).

Rounding out the veterans on the offense is senior attacker Shelby Fredericks. Fredericks set a school single-season record last year with 165 draw controls, finishing third in the nation and first in the Big Ten in draw controls per game.

“I think we’re all on the same page when it comes to offense and defense,” Lasota said. “It’s nice to see the progress we’ve made in the fall and then building on that in the preseason.”

Juniors Claire Quinn and Mallory Weisse also return at attacker and goalie, respectively. Quinn recorded a team-high 36 caused turnovers and 45 ground balls in 2017, while Weisse finished with 169 saves in net.

One notable freshman joining the Cats is midfielder Brennan Dwyer. Dwyer was named the U.S. Lacrosse Magazine Midwest Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017 at Loyola Academy in Wilmette.

The schedule may be demanding — the Cats open their regular season against a defending conference champion in Canisius, and will close it against the defending Big Ten and national champion, Maryland — but the strategy, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said, is to take this season one game at a time.

“For this group, the biggest thing that they learned is that they have to put their best effort forth every day and not wait until the end of the season,” Amonte Hiller said. “We really got it together at the end of the season last year, and that’s what helped us get to that second round. But we’re starting off this weekend, and we really want to take every chance to put us in the best position possible.”

Twitter: @ellabrockway