Lacrosse: Northwestern set to clash against Maryland


(Daily file photo by Katie Pach)

Senior Liza Elder makes a move in a 2017 game against Maryland. The Cats will try for their first win over the Terrapins since 2012 on Thursday.

Karim Noorani, Reporter

Kelly Amonte Hiller and the Maryland lacrosse program have a bittersweet relationship.

Maryland was Amonte Hiller’s first home, where she scrapped as a player to bring about back-to-back undefeated seasons and National Player of the Year awards. She reached the pinnacle of the sport in a Terrapins uniform before graduating.

Amonte Hiller has ostensibly outshined her playing career with her coaching one. She built the Northwestern lacrosse program from the ground up, resurrecting a nonexistent program to win seven national championships in 10 years. The Wildcats would have strung together eight consecutive NCAA titles in that stretch if it were not for a championship game loss to Maryland in 2010.

NU avenged its loss to the Terrapins in the following year’s title game, but since then, Maryland has defeated the Cats in four tournament games, including a Big Ten Tournament Championship Game in 2016.

“There’s a lot history with Maryland lacrosse,” Amonte Hiller said. “Obviously, I’m a little bit a part of it. It’s a lot of fun to play against them.”

The Cats (9-3, 3-0 Big Ten) have had this date circled on their calendar not only for the history between the two programs but also because of the test it will bring them. The Terrapins (14-0, 4-0) are undefeated so far this season, needing just three games to complete a perfect regular season. Not since its game against Boston College has NU faced such a formidable opponent.

Maryland has a famed lacrosse program and has housed generations of talented players, but its success this season stems from head coach Cathy Reese. Reese played alongside Amonte Hiller at Maryland before she was offered the head coaching position in 2007. Reese recently became the all-time winningest head coach in Maryland women’s lacrosse history.

“I think that (Reese) is a competitor,” Amonte Hiller said. “I think that they all are extreme competitors. I expect a great fight and great competition. They always come out and play their best, so we’re gonna have to do same.”

Thursday night will also be a clash of great defense versus offense. The Terrapins have the second-best defense in the country while the Cats are touting the nation’s leading offense. The difference between NU’s average goals scored and Maryland’s average goals allowed is a staggering +12 points.

Freshman Izzy Scane has been a huge surprise for the Cats this season. Scane has racked up four consecutive Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards and is currently leading the country in shot percentage. Scane said her efficiency has been a big part of why she was recently moved to attacker from midfielder.

Exemplifying the strong cohesion that veteran NU players have been praising within the team, Scane credited her teammates for all the accolades she’s gotten this season.

“I’m surprised each week that I get it,” Scane said. “Honestly, the credit goes out to my team completely. They make the plays that make me look good and get those Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards, and I couldn’t do it without them.”

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