Lacrosse: No. 2 Northwestern spreads the wealth, storms past Albany in 21-11 road victory


Daily file photo by Seeger Gray

Graduate student attacker Izzy Scane stares down the cage prior to a free-position attempt. Scane notched seven points against the Great Danes on Saturday.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 2 Northwestern carried a 12-game winning streak into John Fallon Field in Albany, New York on Saturday, looking to cruise past its final non-conference contest against Albany. But the Wildcats (13-1, 4-0 Big Ten) found themselves in a dogfight against the Great Danes (7-6, 3-0 America East) midway through the second quarter.  

Graduate student midfielder Elle Hansen opened the scoring at the 13:04 mark, and senior attacker Dylan Amonte doubled NU’s advantage to 2-0 nearly five minutes later. Although the Cats appeared to pick up where they left off against Rutgers two days prior, Albany packed a powerful counterpunch and flipped the matchup on its head a minute after Amonte’s conversion.

Great Dane midfielder Katie Pascale split the deficit with a free-position shot just before the midway point of the first frame. Albany midfielder Sarah Falk and attacker Ava Poupard then piled on a pair of goals to take a 3-2 Great Danes’ lead.

While freshman midfielder Madison Taylor and senior attacker Erin Coykendall responded with two goals in 30 seconds, Falk leveled the score once more off a Pascale feed. 

Sophomore midfielder Samantha Smith recaptured the lead for the Cats in the waning seconds of the first quarter. However, the first 15 minutes were far from NU’s ideal script, as Great Dane midfielder Haley Phalines dominated the draw circle with her elite height at 6 feet 1 inch, while the Cats trailed 6-4 in the draw control battle.

After nearly seven minutes of scoreless lacrosse in the second frame, Albany midfielder Grace McCauley equalized from the eight-meter. Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller needed a spark for her team to regain momentum — otherwise, an underdog allowed to stick around for too long could fester into a perilous power.

With a diverse range of weapons to turn to, NU didn’t choose just one — the team chose many. First, graduate student attacker Izzy Scane, who faced persistent double-teams and aggressive marking from the Great Danes, made her first imprint on the contest by finding Taylor for the go-ahead goal. After Hansen added another score, Coykendall diverted the opposing defense’s attention before delivering a pinpoint pass to Amonte. The senior attacker took a wide-open lane and struck gold.

At the other end of the field, McCauley broke loose for a slick behind-the-back finish. The celebration of the highlight-reel worthy play appeared short-lived as Taylor fired home an unassisted tally, upping the Cats lead to three.

Just 20 seconds later, the “Scane Train” barreled full speed ahead. While Scane — the nation’s leading scorer — failed to convert her first five shots of the game, she launched a rocket into the back of the net with 44 seconds left in the first half. She utilized the same tactic on the ensuing possession, scoring in almost identical fashion to give her team an 11-6 halftime advantage.

Albany attacker Shonly Wallace notched the opening goal at the 12:37 mark of the third frame, but inadvertently triggered a Lake Show-sized tsunami. Scane completed her hat trick just 23 seconds later and Amonte tallied back-to-back scores, giving NU a seven-goal lead. The Great Danes then sent Scane to the eight-meter for a free-position play where the graduate student attacker capped a 4-0 run for the Cats.

McCauley put a temporary stopgap on NU’s theatrics, picking up her own hat trick. But minutes later, Taylor responded from point-blank range — grabbing her fourth goal of the day in emphatic fashion. 

Albany held graduate student attacker Hailey Rhatigan in check up until the third quarter, when she shot out a cannon to give the Cats a nine-goal lead. Following a Taylor pass out of a free-position play, Scane saw Rhatigan cutting toward the cage out of the corner of her eye and fed the Mercer transfer for her first goal of the afternoon. Then, after a late Falk conversion, the Cats carried a 17-9 advantage into the final frame.

Rhatigan kickstarted the fourth period, capitalizing off a Coykendall feed to extend NU’s edge to nine goals. But, after Scane was sent to the sideline following an offensive-zone collision, the Great Danes became NU’s first opponent to notch double-digit goals against the Cats since Marquette on Feb. 23.

Fortunately for NU, Scane returned to play later in the fourth quarter, while Rhatigan and senior Eve Hritzuk combined for the squad’s final three goals. Falk scored a last-minute tally, but Amonte Hiller’s team decisively drubbed its opponent 21-11 on an afternoon eight different Cats found twine.

NU will play its final road game of the regular season at Ohio State on April 15. The Buckeyes (5-9, 0-4 Big Ten) conceded 18 goals against No. 10 Maryland Saturday, which means the Cats should sharpen up their shooting sticks for a high scoring affair.

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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