Lacrosse: NU setting high goals for 2019 campaign


Daily file photo by David Lee

Julie Krupnick deflects a shot. The sophomore will be competing for the starting spot in the net.

Karim Noorani, Reporter


Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller is a nine-time NCAA Champion, five-time IWLCA National Coach of the Year, two-time NCAA National Player of the Year and a U.S Lacrosse Hall of Fame Inductee, among many other accolades. Those awards bring a level of deference from opposing teams — and her own. However, they also come along with some self-afflicted scrutiny.

“It’s kinda tough. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be successful,” Hiller said. “Big Ten championship. National championship. That’s the ultimate goal.”

No. 7 Northwestern, who exited the 2018 tournament with a 19-14 loss to UNC in the quarterfinal, starts off its season Friday with an exhibition game against No. 18 Colorado before playing its regular-season opener against Louisville on Feb. 8.

The Wildcats return with only half of last year’s starters from last season’s quarterfinal run. Among the holdovers are redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Julie Krupnick and senior attacker Selena Lasota, who was identified by Krupnick as a stabilizing presence on this year’s team.

“Selena Lasota is our emotional leader. She definitely as a fifth-year leads by example,” Krupnick said. “Everyone on the team looks up to her.”

Lasota led Northwestern with 75 goals last season and started all 21 games as a stalwart member of NU’s front line. While the Cats averaged nearly 16 goals per game last season, Lasota will be forced to step into a bigger role following the departure of midfielder Sheila Nesselbush.

While there will be additional changes in the starting lineup to accommodate the team’s losses after last season, the goalkeeping competition will continue from last year. Krupnick started off last season strong but was later forced to split time with senior Mallory Weisse due to a tactical change.

It remains to be seen which goalkeeper will get the nod against the Buffaloes, but Krupnick acknowledged her teammate provides a good substitute in certain situations.

“When things weren’t going so well on defense, (the coaches) wanted to give it another shot to see if (Weisse) could change things,” Krupnick said. “We work well together. Sometimes a change in momentum is good.”

Krupnick said she is optimistic about the upcoming season, echoing her coach’s attitude. After NU wasn’t able to live up to its high standards last season, Krupnick said this year the Cats could make incremental improvements off the 2018 campaign.

An important key in doing that, Amonte Hiller said, will be matching the intensity typically found in high-performing teams.

“In order to compete at the highest level, you have to have that level of intensity every single day in practice, and your teammates have to be pushing each other,” Amonte Hiller said. “If you can create an environment that’s extremely competitive in practice, then when you get to the games it’s going to be a lot easier.”

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