Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern powers past No. 8 Loyola Maryland, clinches fourth consecutive Final Four appearance


Photo courtesy of Northwestern Athletics

Graduate student attacker Izzy Scane celebrates after a goal. Scane tallied 10 points against the Greyhounds on Thursday.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 1 Northwestern entered Martin Stadium on Thursday just 60 minutes of NCAA Tournament action away from a potential fourth consecutive Final Four berth. The team’s opponent, No. 8 Loyola Maryland, boasted a Baltimorean brick wall: the second-ranked scoring defense in the country.

With a trip to Cary, North Carolina, hanging in the balance, the Wildcats (19-1, 6-0 Big Ten) turned to graduate student attacker Izzy Scane. 

And in her proverbial Tewaaraton moment, Scane scored 10 points to propel her team past the Greyhounds (19-3, 9-0 Patriot League) in a 16-6 bludgeoning.

“After that close game on Sunday, we all kicked into gear,” Scane said. “People were working hard together and working for each other.”

After more than two minutes of defensive play by both teams to start the game, Scane scooped a ground ball on the edge of the offensive zone and charged toward the goal. She fed freshman attacker Madison Taylor for the game’s opening score. 

Graduate student attacker Elle Hansen doubled NU’s lead with 9:01 remaining in the first quarter, but Loyola Maryland midfielder Chase Boyle cut the deficit just 41 seconds later. 

Both defenses reigned supreme in the next four minutes. Scane then registered her first goal of the game on a free-position play, barrelling in front of the cage before finishing on an off-balance effort.

From there, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller shifted sophomore midfielder Serafina DeMunno into the draw circle, attempting to counteract Loyola Maryland midfielder Jillian Wilson’s dominant display. 

“Serafina went in and she started to do really well,” Amonte Hiller said. “We needed some speed on the circle (and) put (senior defender) Johanna Kingsfield in there, and she did amazing.”

While the Cats didn’t reap benefits on the next draw, senior attacker Erin Coykendall connected with senior attacker Dylan Amonte to cement a 4-1 lead for NU heading into the second quarter.

When play resumed, the Cats’ graduate student attacking assassins activated. First, Scane spun into a diving effort, extending NU’s edge to four goals. Then, graduate student attacker Hailey Rhatigan converted an unassisted tally on the next possession. Three minutes later, Hansen buried Scane’s feed to stretch the margin to 7-1 with 8:09 left in the frame.

The Greyhounds tried to capture momentum past the quarter’s midway point, but Scane slammed the door shut. The Tewaaraton finalist unleashed a textbook stick check and completed her hat trick from point-blank range to widen the lead to seven scores.

“Our main focus is going into that ride with a sense of urgency,” Scane said. “After you don’t score, it gives you an extra kick to try and get that ball back.”

Despite Loyola Maryland attacker Georgia Latch’s responding score, the Scane Train steamrolled ahead. The attacker assisted Coykendall on a pinpoint pass and scored her 86th goal of the season on the next possession.

Wilson delivered a late goal for the Greyhounds, but the Cats flew into the locker room with a 10-3 lead. 

Sophomore midfielder Emerson Bohlig jumpstarted proceedings less than five minutes into the second half, and Coykendall grabbed a player-advantage goal for a nine-goal difference. After Scane tallied her fifth goal of the night, NU activated the running clock with 6:53 left in the third quarter.

With the period winding down, Scane stepped back up to the eight-meter and buried a bullet in the back of the net, solidifying a 14-3 gap.

Scane’s scoring show persisted into the final frame, as junior defender Kendall Halpern hit the attacker for her seventh goal and 10th point of the day — Scane’s highest goal tally since the March 15 matchup against Michigan.

“If your best player can have 10 points, you’re in pretty good shape,” Amonte Hiller said. 

While Loyola Maryland midfielder Sydni Black and Boyle combined for three fourth-quarter scores, Coykendall completed her hat trick, and the Cats ran away with a 16-6 quarterfinal victory.

NU will face No. 5 Denver in a semifinal showdown in Cary on May 26. The Pioneers (22-0, 6-0 Big East) own the nation’s top defensive unit and held No. 3 UNC scoreless in the second half Thursday.

Nevertheless, graduate student goalkeeper Molly Laliberty — who registered seven saves — said the Cats will approach the contest like any other.

“It’s just lacrosse, so it’ll be business as usual — just go out there, have fun and keep playing our game,’’ Laliberty said. “It doesn’t really matter where we are, (or) who we’re playing. It’s all about us playing together.”

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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