Lacrosse: What To Watch For: No. 3 Northwestern prepares to defend home turf against No. 4 Stony Brook


Daily file photo by Micah Sandy

Senior attacker Erin Coykendall fires a shot from close range against Youngstown State on Sunday. Coykendall has tallied 30 points in six games this season.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

Following back-to-back offensive onslaughts against Vanderbilt and Youngstown State this past weekend, where No. 3 Northwestern bombarded opposing nets to the tune of 48 goals, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s crew will line up against No. 4 Stony Brook Friday.

The Wildcats (5-1, 0-0 Big Ten) enter the contest riding a five-game winning streak, but the Seawolves (4-0, 0-0 CAA) have cruised through their opening slate and look to knock off NU at Ryan Fieldhouse to shoot up in the national rankings.

Both sides appear battle-tested. The Cats hold a 2-1 record against top-25 opponents — with their one stumble coming in the season opener at then-No. 5 Syracuse. Stony Brook is 3-0 against top-25 teams and recently surged back from a 6-0 deficit to shock then-No. 17 Stanford in San Diego.

With NU averaging an NCAA high 19.5 goals per game, and the Seawolves tallying 13-plus scores in their four outings this season, all the pieces are in place for a high-scoring affair. For the Cats, this matchup serves as one final test before conference play commences March 16 against Michigan. 

Here’s three takeaways to keep in mind as NU shoots for a sixth straight victory against a talented top-five outfit.


  1. The Scane Train is back to the tracks after routine maintenance 

The Cats piled on a season-high 24 goals against Vanderbilt last Saturday, then repeated the same highmark against Youngstown State the very next day. If NU didn’t take its foot off the gas toward the contest’s close, this total could’ve been far higher.

However, graduate student attacker Izzy Scane missed both games with a “day-to-day” injury, according to Amonte Hiller. Other players had to step up in her absence, and the Cats’ offense — excluding an eight-minute second quarter stretch against Vanderbilt — was business as usual.

Scane leads her team in points and goals, with 33 and 27, respectively. Scane will face the Seawolves on more than two weeks’ rest and will likely look to make up for lost time. 

Expect the graduate student attacker to pepper the Stony Brook cage early and often, and the Seawolves will certainly pay much defensive attention in Scane’s direction, opening up lanes for senior attacker Erin Coykendall and other threats.

  1. A star-studded showdown of scorers and much more

Friday’s matchup features seven players on the preseason Tewaaraton Watch List, which recognizes the top players in collegiate lacrosse.

Coykendall, Scane, sophomore midfielder and defender Samantha White and graduate student goalkeeper Molly Laliberty each have played a vital role in the team’s early success. Coykendall and Scane’s efforts quickly jump out in the stat sheet, but White and Laliberty have been crucial to solidifying the Cats’ defensive effort.

Stony Brook attacker Kailyn Hart, defender Clare Levy and midfielder Ellie Masera received nods for the Seawolves. Hart and Masera have combined for 39 points in four games, and Levy has provided a defensive anchor for her squad. 

Currently, Scane and Masera have received the most buzz on their respective teams for a potential Tewaaraton bid, and each will be vying for bragging rights in the head-to-head battle Friday.

  1. Is there room for Rhatigan to rally a new offensive threat?

Graduate student attacker Hailey Rhatigan saw her first action this past weekend and stuffed the stat sheet with eight goals and one assist. Thrust into the starting lineup without Scane, Rhatigan made the most of her opportunity, combining speed and finishing ability to render quick scores for NU.

After a nine-point weekend, the question must be posed: Will Rhatigan be featured heavily once more? Scane’s return will certainly put attacking minutes at a premium, but Rhatigan’s ability can’t be denied.

The Mercer transfer, who recently tallied her 300th collegiate point, said adjusting to her new team “was challenging at first” but that she’s picked up new tools for her overall game.

With Rhatigan, Scane and Coykendall posing a possible triple threat on the attack, Stony Brook coach Joe Spallina must prepare a thorough defensive scheme to try and slow the Cats’ attack, or his team will enter a shootout against the nation’s top scoring side.

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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