Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern decimates No. 2 Maryland in commanding 17-9 road win

Photo courtesy of Northwestern Athletics
Sophomore attacker Madison Taylor celebrates against Maryland Saturday night. Taylor scored six goals during Northwestern’s 17-9 victory over the Terrapins.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — As an array of amber-coated clouds descended over No. 2 Maryland’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex Saturday evening, No. 1 Northwestern relentlessly blitzed its rival’s cage to secure a 17-9 road victory.

“We’ve had some ups and downs, and some of our losses have been the best learning opportunities,” graduate student attacker Izzy Scane said. “This was a really big game for us to lock in and see what we could do.”

The Wildcats (11-2, 3-1 Big Ten) had fallen in six consecutive College Park campaigns, winning their last road game against the Terrapins (10-3, 3-1 Big Ten) in February 2006. 

But NU’s woes alongside the Capital Beltway vanished as it vaulted into a three-way tie for first place in the conference standings before a record 2,400 spectators.

“Maryland has traditionally done well with getting crowds — it’s the mecca of lacrosse in general,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “It’s fun to come down here and play … it just says how much attention our sport is getting, how much people love the game.”

Amonte Hiller’s group entered the week needing to adjust to Maryland’s fast-flowing field hockey surface, a field it last traversed during a 15-9 loss in 2022.

The coaching staff’s midweek messaging was crystal clear, Scane said.

“There’s not as much room for error,” Scane said. “If you miss a pass, it goes out of bounds.”

Amonte Hiller, whose team has struggled with turnovers in spurts this season, said she knew Saturday’s showdown with her alma mater would require a bought-in mentality in weekday practices.

So, the eight-time national champion coach called up her 2021 Field Hockey national championship-winning colleague — Tracey Fuchs — who gave the ’Cats the green light to prepare on Lakeside Field.

“Gotta give her a big high-five for letting us use the field all week,” Amonte Hiller said of Fuchs. “It is very different to play on a surface like this, just the passes, you have to be really focused. I was really proud of our group and how they prepared … It showed on the field today.”

NU and the Terrapins traded early goals and leads during a back-and-forth first quarter. Behind Scane and sophomore attacker Madison Taylor, the ’Cats held a 5-4 lead after 15 minutes of play.

While a committed defensive effort left Maryland down 20-9 in the halftime shot department, Terrapin goalkeeper Emily Sterling made nine first-half saves to limit the NU advantage to just 8-5. 

Scane said she and her fellow attackers quickly realized they needed to draw Sterling out of her cage to wreak havoc on the opposing net. In the second half, Sterling tallied just one save.

“She’s definitely not a type of goalie you can put dinky shots around, and the more we got those shots where she was stepping up and getting into our stick, the more we adjusted,” Scane said. “She’s great, any goalie is going to be trouble if they’re that good.”

After both teams trotted back onto the turf for the third-quarter’s opening draw, the ’Cats rattled off six consecutive scores as the stadium lights shone down. Evocative of its backbreaking 2023 halftime adjustments, NU slammed the door shut on the hosts, manufacturing a 14-5 edge 10 minutes into the third quarter.

Scane and Taylor, who tallied co-game highs six goals and seven points apiece, seemingly scored at will. Meanwhile, freshman midfielder Madison Smith helped rectify a resounding draw deficit that Terrapin midfielder Shaylan Ahearn built in the circle.

“The more we have threats coming from everywhere on the field — we had a lot of girls coming from the midfield scoring goals, too — it’s just a lot harder for teams to shut down one player when there’s a lot of other plays that are going to be open,” Scane said. “Today was a great opportunity of what we try to do with our offense.”

The ’Cats held Maryland’s leading scorer, attacker Eloise Clevenger, pointless through three quarters. While Clevenger found her scoring touch in the fourth period, her behind-the-back antics were all for naught. 

Scane said NU’s defense was “absolutely incredible” during the win.

“They’re such workhorses, and that defense is an exhausting defense,” she said. “They play high-pressure 24/7, and it takes a lot of effort — a lot of buy in. We see them in practice doing exactly that … They’re not a defense I would want to play against, so it’s fun to be able to watch back on our end and see them do their thing.”

With Ohio State heading to Martin Stadium next Saturday, the ’Cats will look to extend their 40-game home winning streak as Scane draws closer to the NCAA’s career goals record. The attacker is just 12 scores away from snapping Charlotte North’s 358-goal high mark.

While she became the first coach to dethrone Terrapin coach Cathy Reese in a home conference game, Amonte Hiller said she’s eyeing grander aspirations.

“Anytime you can come to someone who is so strong on their home field and get a win, it’s huge,” Amonte Hiller said. “But it’s just a game. It’s just one day … We’re excited about this game, and now got to shift our focus to our next game.”

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