Lacrosse: No. 5 Northwestern closes regular season with win over Ohio State


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Brennan Dwyer brings the ball down the field. The sophomore tallied a game-high 10 draw controls in NU’s win over Ohio State.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

Even though she’s won seven national titles at Northwestern, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller still knows national rankings matter.

While she was preparing for Thursday’s game against Ohio State on Wednesday, the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Committee released its most updated seedings. It revealed the Wildcats as the fifth-best team in the country, with an advantageous projected draw toward the Final Four.

“Since it’s actually the Committee putting out, as of right now, where each team would be, I think (the rankings) are pretty important,” Amonte Hiller said. “It shows us that we have to finish well into the Big Ten Tournament so that we can get a high seed, putting us in the best position we can be in.”

The only thing that could have jeopardized that seeding before the regular season ended would have been a loss to the unranked Buckeyes (9-8, 1-5 Big Ten). But another six-goal performance from senior attacker Selena Lasota prevented any question of where NU (12-4, 5-1 Big Ten) stands heading into the conference tournament next weekend.

The Cats won 17-12 in Columbus following the fourth six-goal game of the season for Lasota, keeping the team’s No. 5 ranking safe for the moment. Lasota scored two goals late in the second half to increase their lead from two goals to four, putting Ohio State away with her dynamic offense down the stretch.

Lasota’s late performance helped NU tip the scales of a game that was surprisingly tight early on. The Buckeyes led 5-4 10 minutes into the first half, receiving multiple lightly-contested chances close to the net. Ohio State attacker Liza Hernandez had the hosts’ first two goals, but after that she was held scoreless until after the game was in hand for NU.

Keeping Hernandez in check, the Cats held the Buckeyes to one goal in an 18-minute stretch late in the game. NU went on a 7-2 run to pull away, and its star attacker attributed the turnaround to her team controlling more draw controls after a slow start.

“We tried to focus on not getting too shaken by any specific play they made,” Lasota said. “We haven’t had as much communication on defense and clicking on offense and trust in each other (as the team can), but we saw a lot of great progress.”

Then Lasota turned the game around with her offensive performance, and the Cats took home the eighth win in their last nine games. NU, who finishes its regular season in second place in the Big Ten behind undefeated No. 1 Maryland, will play No. 8 Michigan in the first round of the four-team Big Ten Tournament on May 3 in Baltimore.

In the two games before this one, NU defeated the Wolverines and No. 9 Notre Dame, leading Amonte Hiller to say she’s confident about where the Cats are heading into the postseason. In what will likely be the team’s final game this year against an unranked opponent, she said the team responded well to a better-than-expected first half from the Buckeyes.

“Ohio State is not going to just roll over, they’re going to fight for everything since they’re a good team,” she said. “Each game we have to take what’s coming, and we were able to make a few adjustments of what we were doing in the second half to get a little bit better.”

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