Lacrosse: Brennan Dwyer is at the center of NU’s unblemished season


Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Northwestern scams for the ball in the midfield. Sophomore Brennan Dwyer has created many of those chances this year.

Karim Noorani, Reporter


Mass euphoria hit Northwestern with 15 seconds left to play in Sunday’s game against Duke.

The Wildcats’ celebration was not set off by one of their late-game goals or big defensive stops. The play at the center of NU’s excitement was actually a game-sealing draw control from the hands of sophomore midfielder Brennan Dwyer.

The Cats (3-0) gained the last possession as a result of Dwyer winning the draw, which features one player from each team sparring in the center circle for possession after a goal. When the midfielder came away with the ball, it was a deflating blow to the Blue Devils, who are ranked as the nation’s top draw control team.

But the play was unsurprising to anyone who knew Dwyer. Coaches and teammates described the midfielder as an unfailing big-moment player.

“(Dwyer) was so clutch down the stretch,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “She is a clutch player and anytime the game is on the line, she steps up for us.”

Dwyer was a high-profile recruit coming out of Loyola Academy, having four-time all-state honors under her belt. In her senior year, Dwyer led her high school lacrosse team to a fourth consecutive state championship and went on to become the first female Under Armour All-American from the Midwest in three years.

To start her collegiate career, Dwyer played behind graduated attackers and midfielders Shelby Fredericks and Sheila Nesselbush, but Dwyer earned more responsibility as the season wore on. By the final game against UNC, the midfielder had earned a consistent rotation spot inside the circle for the Cats.

In her second season, Dwyer has already established herself as NU’s top draw control specialist. She won a career-high 12 draw controls in the Cats’ regular season opener against Louisville. The second-year player has recorded 23 total draw controls this season, a mark that is currently third in the country.

“(Dwyer) does a really great job of getting to know what each draw person is doing from game to game,” sophomore midfielder Lauren Gilbert said. “She obviously practices a lot each week, but she has to adjust to what each person is doing.”

In recent years, NU has placed an added emphasis on gaining a faster and more efficient offense. Thus far in the season, the Cats hold the second best scoring offense in the entire country. Led by Gilbert, NU has dramatically increased its shot percentage, now converting more than half of the shot attempts this season.

To continue at this offensive pace and fulfill their postseason goals, the Cats will need Dwyer to continue to win them possessions inside the circle. If the game against the Blue Devils was any indication, opposing teams will need to take note of the midfielder unleashing NU’s offense.

“Our ability to generate offense and score goals at will is really helping us,” Amonte Hiller said. “(We’re) never really out of a game in this sport. We can score goals quickly and as long as we can gain possession, we can get back in it.”

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