Lacrosse: Northwestern has its first four-game winning streak of 2019

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Lacrosse: Northwestern has its first four-game winning streak of 2019

Selena Lasota makes a move. The senior scored six goals in Sunday’s win over Penn.

Selena Lasota makes a move. The senior scored six goals in Sunday’s win over Penn.

Daily file photo by David Lee

Selena Lasota makes a move. The senior scored six goals in Sunday’s win over Penn.

Daily file photo by David Lee

Daily file photo by David Lee

Selena Lasota makes a move. The senior scored six goals in Sunday’s win over Penn.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

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Selena Lasota started her full, unencumbered motion as she wound up to shoot a ball from over 20 yards away into an airtight window. Northwestern had already scored four goals in the first six minutes of Sunday’s Top-10 matchup against Penn, but to convert this one, Lasota would have to make the ball reach the net before any of the several defenders in that 20-yard space could react.

It was a heat check, one that would extend the Wildcats’ early lead over the Quakers to 5-1. Lasota said she doesn’t know her fastball’s speed and couldn’t guess how quickly it buzzed past the defense and into the net. But it was fast enough.

That and and the rest of her arsenal allowed her to score five first-half goals against one of the best teams in the country. Her scoring had such a strong effect on Penn’s defense that the Quakers started face-guarding her, denying her the ball with a man-to-man defender, after Lasota’s run of goals in the first half.

She led the Wildcats with six goals, and No. 9 NU (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten) won, 17-13, against the No. 5 Quakers (8-2, 2-0 Ivy League) to earn its first win over a Top-10 team this season.

“(Lasota) got on a run and no one was going to stop her,” freshman midfielder Izzy Scane said. “It was a smart move on Penn’s part to start trying to face guard her because no one was stopping her at the time.”

As the Quakers face-guarded Lasota in the second half, they went on a 5-0 run to cut their deficit to just three goals with 3:19 to play. So the Cats drew up consecutive isolation plays for sophomore midfielder Lauren Gilbert, who converted her second attempt and put the game away.

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said this defensive strategy is frequently used against NU, so the team has learned how to play without its leading scorer in a starring role.

“We have so many weapons (that) it’s hard to take one player out,” Amonte Hiller said. “You’ll see a player like Lauren who’ll step up… Everybody steps up when Selena is face guarded, but (Lasota) got the ball some as well. She needs to take advantage of those opportunities, too.”

While Lasota struggled to get open in the second half, the rest of the team had success against a strong defensive team. Scane finished with four goals and two assists, Gilbert added a pair of goals and assists and the Cats converted over half of their shot attempts.

NU was outscored 6-4 in the second half, but after Gilbert iced the game with a goal with just over two minutes left to play, the Cats sealed a win that gave them their first four-game winning streak of the season. Last week, NU beat Marquette 24-4 and Penn State 19-11, but now the team heads into one of its most important stretches of the season — three consecutive games against three Top-20 Big Ten teams.

Amonte Hiller said the team’s ability to withstand Penn’s tighter defense and slower tempo in the second half gave her confidence heading into a difficult portion of the schedule.

“We need to fight through those moments, and I think we did,” Amonte Hiller said. “We had some nice stops defensively at the end of the game and then we were able to get that goal at the end of the game that sealed the game.”

Email: charliegoldsmith2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @2021_charlie

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