Lacrosse: Northwestern dominates Syracuse to secure spot in Final Four


Jorge Melendez/The Daily Northwestern

Madison Doucette makes a save. The senior goaltender saved 11 shots in Northwestern’s quarterfinal victory over Syracuse.

Nicole Orejuela, Reporter


Following a commanding 15-4 victory over Syracuse Wednesday at Martin Stadium, Northwestern is advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats fell into an early 1-0 hole but quickly responded, rattling off three consecutive goals and edging Syracuse 6-2 to end the first quarter. The Cats’ lead only grew from there, including a crucial 6-0 run spanning the second and third quarters to give NU full control of the game and a 12-3 lead entering the fourth.

“We’re playing well, we’re in sync, we have momentum,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said after her team’s impressive performance. “We wanted to obviously control some of their better players and I think we did a great job of that … our players really played great team defense.”

Vital to the team’s defensive success was senior goaltender Madison Doucette, who finished the game with 11 saves and profuse praise from her teammates and coach alike.

“Oh my God, it was unbelievable,” graduate attacker Lauren Gilbert said of Doucette’s play. “I was so pumped because it was just stop after stop after stop. And it was so clear that we just broke them offensively.”

One notable save came early in the game’s second quarter off a free position for Syracuse. Doucette remained calm amid the chaotic frenzy of players crashing the goal, stopping a shot and almost leading to a Wildcat goal off a quick, aggressive counterattack.

This isn’t the first time the Cats have faced Syracuse this season. The two teams played this March in a highly-competitive overtime thriller in which the Cats ultimately came out on top thanks to two late goals, including the game winner, by Gilbert.

Wednesday’s quarterfinals matchup added yet another chapter to the Northwestern-Syracuse rivalry, and vindication for the Cats’ returning players.

Last season the Orange handed Northwestern a heartbreaking loss in the NCAA Tournament semifinals game to advance to the championship game, a memory that still weighs heavy on many team members’ minds.

“I honestly don’t even have words for it,” Gilbert said. “I mean, obviously, avenging that loss, you know. They ended our season last year. That was the best we’ve played all-around as a team, probably my entire time here. We picked a great time to do it and I think we have a ton of momentum going into next week.”

Northwestern will play North Carolina next Friday in the semifinal.

Amonte Hiller said the Cats’ struggles to end the season on a high note, including a disappointing Big Ten Tournament loss to Rutgers, have been beneficial throughout the NCAA Tournament and will serve them in their semifinal matchup.

“Those two losses at the end of the season really created a scenario where they have a little fear because they feel like they’ve already experienced the heartbreak,” Amonte Hiller said. “We’re not saving anything. We’re going to prepare. We’re going to be ready, and we’re going to battle.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Nic_orejuela

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