Lacrosse: No. 6 Wildcats pick up third top-10 win of the season against No. 8 Michigan

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Lacrosse: No. 6 Wildcats pick up third top-10 win of the season against No. 8 Michigan

Lauren Gilbert makes a move. The sophomore scored 3 goals and added two assists in NU’s win over Michigan.

Lauren Gilbert makes a move. The sophomore scored 3 goals and added two assists in NU’s win over Michigan.

Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Lauren Gilbert makes a move. The sophomore scored 3 goals and added two assists in NU’s win over Michigan.

Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Lauren Gilbert makes a move. The sophomore scored 3 goals and added two assists in NU’s win over Michigan.

Ella Brockway, Sports Editor

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With just under 12 minutes left in its game against Michigan on Thursday, Northwestern was on the edge of a hole. The No. 8 Wolverines had won three straight draw controls and scored three straight goals to build a 10-8 lead. If the No. 6 Wildcats couldn’t win the draw and score on the ensuing possession, they’d risk falling into that hole.

NU won the draw, and a few passes, cuts and screens later, senior attacker Selena Lasota — with her back facing the goal — took a step and hurled the ball over her right shoulder. Sophomore midfielder Lauren Gilbert was in perfect position in front of the cage to catch the no-look pass, and put the ball right between the Michigan goalkeeper’s legs.

Just like that, Lasota and Gilbert had carried the Cats away from the edge and into the SportsCenter Top 10.

That goal sparked a 5-0 NU run, fueling a come-from-behind 14-11 win over the Wolverines (14-2, 4-2 Big Ten) at home for the Cats (10-4, 4-1) on Senior Day. Lasota led all players with four scores, and became the program’s all-time leader in goals with 256.

“It was a tough game at the start, Michigan’s a great team,” Lasota said. “To rally for our seniors and just fight, fight, fight, and come out on top of that game, was awesome.”

NU was stifled by the Wolverines’ defense for much of the first half. After scoring three quick goals and hopping out to an early lead, the Cats went on a thirteen-minute long goalless drought. Lasota scored with less than 90 seconds left in the first to send NU into the halftime break with the game tied at five.

At that point, the Cats had more turnovers (12) than shots (11) — uncharacteristic for a team that averaged 35.5 shots and only 12.5 turnovers a game before Thursday.

“They were a pretty aggressive team and the refs weren’t calling a lot. I think we figured that out in the first half,” Gilbert said. “So we stopped trying to force it into multiple defenders and we just realized that when we work the ball, and also pushed it in transition, that we were able to put them on their heels.”

NU did just that to start the second, scoring two quick goals in transition from Gilbert and senior attacker Lindsey McKone. But Michigan disrupted any attempts that the Cats made to find their rhythm, countering NU’s fast breaks by holding the ball on its end and stretching its possessions deep into the shot clock.

The Wolverines tied the game at 8-8 with a goal just as the clock expired, and began their 3-0 run. But the Cats responded, starting with Gilbert’s goal at the 11:09 mark. Lasota, freshman midfielder Izzy Scane, junior midfielder Megan Kinna and senior midfielder Emily Stein all scored in the next seven minutes to extend the Cats’ scoring run, while senior keeper Mallory Weisse added six second-half saves to seal the win.

“I don’t know what was going on the first half, but we were really amped and forcing things, making bad decisions, rushing,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “And once we settled in and were a little bit more patient with our opportunities, we were able to score some goals.”

NU’s attention now immediately turns to its matchup against No. 4 Notre Dame (13-2, 5-2 ACC) on Saturday. The Fighting Irish beat No. 3 North Carolina — a team that dominated NU this season — and have the country’s second-best defense.

“We got over half the hump, and the next half is on Saturday night,” Amonte Hiller said. “If we can get that win, we’re going to be in a good spot.”

Email: ellabrockway2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ellabrockway

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