Lacrosse: What To Watch For: No. 3 Northwestern aims to continue hot streak this weekend at Marquette


Daily file photo by Joanne Haner

Graduate student attacker Izzy Scane looks across the eight meter for a teammate. Scane scored four goals in Northwestern’s thrilling win over No.4 Boston College.

Skye Swann, Sports Editor

More than a year ago, Northwestern stepped onto the field at William V. Campbell Stadium to kick-start its season against the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse champions hosted by Boston College. 

Suffering a nine-point defeat, the Wildcats were hoping for another chance to avenge their offensive slump and come out victorious. NU hosted the Eagles last Thursday at Ryan Fieldhouse and returned the favor in a thriller ending, beating Boston College 15 -14 — courtesy of a last-minute goal by sophomore midfielder Emerson Bohlig. Now moving up the ladder, clinching a third-place ranking in the IWLCA polls, the Cats (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) aim to continue their hot streak this weekend on the road. 

Traveling to Milwaukee, NU prepares to battle Marquette in its fourth rendezvous. The Wildcats have a high potential to extend their win streak with starter graduate student and attacker Izzy Scane, who’s bouncing back to her 2021 season prime. After NU’s home opener versus Notre Dame last week, Scane tied her career record with a 10-goal game performance. 

Freshman midfielder Madison Taylor and sophomore midfielder and defender Samantha White will also be top assets for the Cats on the field. Here are three takeaways ahead of Thursday’s faceoff.

  1. Izzy Scane’s offensive prowess will play a key factor in determining if the Cats win or lose

Coming back after a season hiatus due to injury, Scane has not missed a beat these past few games, making it known that the graduate attacker is ready to claim her crown as, arguably, one of the best offensive players in Division I Women’s lacrosse.

In three games, Scane leads the pack with 19 goals, moving at a faster rate than her 2021 campaign start. The fifth-year attacker has been leading the squad to win after win, lifting NU to a No. 3 ranking in the polls this week. 

While there is minimal doubt on whether Scane will bring her A-game to Thursday’s contest, if the Golden Eagles’ defense isolates her from the eight meter, the Cats could have immense trouble on the attacking end. 

The Scane Train’s ability to leave the station and pass through the Marquette stop without any problems will play a crucial factor in whether NU can pull out a win.

  1. Draw controls, draw controls, draw controls

Despite NU beating its opponents in draw controls 56-47, inside the draw circle is one of the greatest challenges the Cats will face against the Golden Eagles. Last season, the squad had midfielders Jill Girardi and Brennan Dwyer as its point draw takers. With the graduation of these two players, the Wildcats have been searching for someone to be their star inside the centerfield. 

Ahead of Thursday, the Cats need to ensure that they are controlling the draw inside the circle to garner possessions. NU’s ability to gain more possessions from winning draws will help the team have more opportunities on the offensive end of the field. 

Midfielders White and Taylor will be key midfielders for the Cats to look out for on the circle’s perimeter. The duo have combined for a total of 38 draw controls in just three games. 

Going into the matchup against Marquette, NU must rely on them to rack up draw controls. 

  1. Defense needs to become stronger inside the eight meter to reduce opposing goals

In the Cats’ last three games, they scored a total of 48 goals but also let in a total of 44 opposing goals. Similar to the 2022 season, NU wins games solely by outshooting its opponents, rather than toughening its defensive efforts and limiting opponents’ shots in the goal. 

If the squad wants to actually secure a spot in the 2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship this May, the Cats must work on strengthening their defensive unit now against programs like the Golden Eagles instead of waiting to crunch time against a team like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Graduate student goalkeeper Molly Laliberty completed 28 saves so far this season, culminating a .418 save percentage. Laliberty’s save ratio should be in tip-top shape Thursday if NU wants to come out triumphant against Marquette. 

With all these factors in play, the Cats will face Marquette on the road as it prepares itself for its hefty conference schedule later this season. 

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