Lacrosse: Seniors guide Northwestern into final regular season home game


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Shelby Fredericks looks to make a defensive play. The attacker is one of numerous Northwestern seniors who will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday.

Ben Pope, Sports Editor


Saturday’s game between No. 7 Northwestern and Rutgers is a big one for senior Shelby Fredericks.

The attacker will not only be one of eight Wildcats honored as part of Senior Day festivities, but she’ll also have a shot at tying or setting the program’s all-time record for draw controls — her career total trails the all-time mark by just 13.

Nevertheless, Fredericks is following a tried-and-true strategy to deal with the distractions: ignoring them.

“(The record) hasn’t been in my mind thus far, and I think that’s been working,” she said. “(And) Senior Day has never really been a point of emphasis in all my years here. It’s obviously great to have all our families coming out and things like that, but I’m thinking of it (as) it’s another game against Rutgers.”

Still, the draw controls record will be an interesting sidestory to follow, especially if the contest between the red-hot Wildcats (12-3, 4-0 Big Ten) and middling Scarlet Knights (7-8, 1-3) turns into a rout.

Fredericks averages 8.5 controls per game, which would rank third in the country if she qualified — she isn’t currently eligible for the national leaderboard because she missed NU’s first four games with an injury — but has tallied 13 or more controls in a single game five times in her career. Rutgers, which sports a minus-33 draw control differential this season, could be an advantageous matchup, too.

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said Fredericks, who has led the team in draw controls in each of her four years in Evanston, has maintained a staple of the Cats’ long-term success.

“That’s been a marquee of our program from the beginning — we’ve had great draw people — and Shelby is obviously one of the best,” Amonte Hiller said. “She’s really flourished this year, too. She’s got so much experience and knowledge in her game (that) … we count on her a lot.”

The Scarlet Knights will enter the game on nine days of rest, dating back to a dramatic overtime victory over Michigan that pushed them into a two-way tie for the fourth and final spot in the upcoming conference tournament. Amonte Hiller said she expects the “resilient” Rutgers team to come out fighting.

NU will counter with a lineup overflowing with confidence, thanks to its ongoing seven-game win streak.

Playing in their final regular season home game will be the likes of midfielder Sheila Nesselbush, whose 37 goals rank second on the team; attacker Danita Stroup, whose 21 goals rank third; and defenders Lindsay Darrell and Ally Mueller, who Amonte Hiller said have brought much-needed leadership to a back line that starts two freshman defenders and a redshirt freshman goalkeeper.
It is difficult, after all, to find a more experienced player on this roster than Darrell. The senior from Long Island, New York, has appeared in all 78 games since her arrival in 2014-15 and started 70 of them. She’s seen a lot of lacrosse, but not since that 2015 season has she seen an NCAA Tournament game played in Evanston.

She said she’s hoping this year that drought is snapped.

“This team is special in just the energy that we have and … there’s just so much love between us, and that’s what sets this team apart from a lot of other teams in the past,” Darrell said. “We’re hoping when the playoffs come around, (this is) not going to be our last home game.”

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