Lacrosse: No. 3 Northwestern gears up for top-10 matchup with No. 6 Notre Dame and Arizona State


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Lindsey McKone gears up to shoot. The senior attacker was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after scoring six goals and having five assists in two games.

Gabriela Carroll, Assistant Sports Editor


Northwestern made a big statement last weekend with two emphatic victories, and they have a big opportunity to keep their momentum going this weekend.

The No. 3 Wildcats (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) face off against No. 6 Notre Dame (1-0, 0-0 ACC) in their first top-10 matchup of the season Friday. After a strong offensive outing last weekend, the Wildcats look to keep scoring against a strong Fighting Irish defense that only allowed three goals to Marquette.

“Notre Dame really amps up your level,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “You know where you need to improve on different things, you learn a lot, and so it’s a good challenge.”

The game will be a rematch of last year’s NCAA Second Round game between the two, which NU won 13-10. The Cats jumped out to an early 8-0 lead in that contest, similar to last Sunday’s game at Duke.

Notre Dame returned a lot of their key players this season, including All-American selection and leading scorer Maddie Howe, and added the top recruit in the class of 2019, Kasey Choma, to the roster that brought last year’s team to a 14-5 season.

NU has weapons of their own, led by senior attacker Lindsey McKone, who earned her first career Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award last week after scoring a game-high tying five goals against Duke. Her ability to create shots, both for herself and for her teammates — she has a team-leading five assists so far this season — makes her a crucial piece of their attack.

“Last weekend was really exciting, because it was our first time really playing together as a team, and obviously we produced a lot and won,” McKone said. “That was really fun, so now we’re just building on that and trying to have the same result this weekend.”

The Cats will also face Arizona State on Sunday, a program entering its third season, and whose new coach earned his first win last Saturday. This will be NU’s first time ever playing the Sun Devils. The Cats have shifted their offense since last season to be more efficient and fast-paced, with Arizona State scoring on 64 percent of their shots.

Defensively, the Cats opened well against Duke, but allowed six goals in the final nine minutes that luckily didn’t lead to the game slipping away due to their 10-point lead. But to compete with Notre Dame and the new Sun Devils’ offense, NU’s defense will need to step up down the stretch.

“Giving up six goals in five minutes at the end of the game wasn’t optimal, but before that I think the first half we did a great job,” Amonte Hiller said. “The second half we got beat on the draw, so they were getting more possessions. I think we still had some good defensive stops, but we want to be able to close out a game and play till the last whistle.”

Twitter: @gablcarroll