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 seeks fifth consecutive Final Four appearance against No. 8 Penn

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Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Sophomore attacker Madison Taylor eyes the cage against Denver. Taylor became the first Northwestern sophomore to record 100 points since Shannon Smith during Sunday’s victory.

After defeating Denver 17-4 in Sunday’s second-round matchup, No. 1 Northwestern advanced to its sixth consecutive NCAA tournament quarterfinal. Standing between the hosts and a potential return trip to Cary, North Carolina, No. 8 Penn will look to secure its first Final Four bid since 2009 Thursday night in Martin Stadium.

While the Wildcats (16-2, 5-1 Big Ten) have hosted and won quarterfinal games in four straight seasons, the Quakers (15-4, 5-2 Ivy League) haven’t seen this stage since 2016. NU boasts a 16-4 advantage over Penn in the teams’ 20 meetings.

Following an overtime loss to Yale in May 5’s conference championship game, the Quakers received an at-large bid — along with hosting spoils for the opening two rounds — to its 17th NCAA tournament. Penn took down Richmond 16-5 in its opener, setting up a Sunday rematch with Loyola Maryland.

The Quakers prevailed in a 12-9 defensive duel, despite tallying just a 32% draw control clip. Now, longtime Penn coach Karin Corbett possesses a shot at her third semifinal berth, but she’ll have to guide her program to victory against a foe it hasn’t beaten in more than seven years.

More than 700 miles to the east, No. 4 Maryland and Florida will go to battle in College Park, Maryland, where the victor will await Thursday night’s result to discover its Final Four opponent.

Both the ’Cats and the Quakers defeated the Terrapins during the regular season, but neither crossed paths with the AAC champions.

With just four quarters separating a championship weekend spot and a potential era’s end, here are some key stats and storylines ahead of NU’s clash with Penn.

Big three scoring threats

Both the ’Cats and the Quakers carry an attacking arsenal capable of decimating a defense in a number of ways. Elite offensive trios headline potential seven-deep attacks, meaning shot-stopping units must remain keyed in throughout the contest.

For NU, graduate student attackers Izzy Scane and Erin Coykendall and sophomore attacker Madison Taylor need no introduction. When all three are on their game — as was the case Sunday against the Pioneers — they form the nation’s most lethal three-pronged attack.

Scane paces the ’Cats with 75 goals, while Taylor has poured in a team-high 100 points this season. The Wantagh, New York, native is the first sophomore to reach the 100-point figure since her former club coach Shannon Smith scored 102 points in 2010.

Coykendall stands on the doorstep of her second consecutive 50-assist campaign and has tallied at least five points in four of her past five games.

Penn has an elite feeder of its own in attacker Erika Chung. Although she has recorded just nine goals this season, the pass-first phenom has 51 assists this season — including 26 helpers in the last six games.

Chung will look to find a bevy of scoring weapons Thursday night, such as midfielder Anna Brandt. The junior, who covers nearly every corner of the field for the Quakers, leads her squad with 58 goals in 2024.

With the ability to craft her own shot and set up cutters, Penn attacker Niki Miles packs another threat NU must attempt to neutralize. The senior has eclipsed the 50-goal mark in back-to-back seasons, and she has recorded a career-high 22 assists this year.

The draw battle

While junior midfielder Samantha Smith put forth a commanding draw performance against Denver, the Quakers are fresh off their worst display in the circle this season against the Greyhounds.

Made with Flourish

Penn began the season on a possessional tear, logging 10 consecutive games with at least a 50% draw win rate. The Quakers peaked on the draw in a close-run mid-March loss to Michigan, when they recorded a 73.3% clip.

During its first 10 games, Penn won at least 65% of its draws on five occasions, but the Quakers eclipsed this mark just once in their past nine games.

Miles has corralled a team-high 113 draw controls, while Brandt has pitched in 58 from the circle. The duo will likely have its work cut out against Smith, Taylor and junior defender Sammy White, all of whom helped the ’Cats win 69.6% of their draws last time out.

A ballad of ball security and tenacious defenses

Within the eight teams left standing, Penn and NU rank first and second in caused turnovers per game, respectively. The Quakers have forced an Ivy League-best 10.21 turnovers per game this season.

The visitors have fared marginally better in maintaining possession, as they average 14.53 turnovers per game while the hosts commit 14.93 turnovers per game.

Penn defenders Sophie Davis and Izzy Rohr have racked up a combined 61 caused turnovers, and three other Quakers have notched at least 20. Compiling seven caused turnovers and limiting solid chances at cage Sunday, Corbin’s defense ruled the day in Philadelphia.

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s group has faced its fair share of stout defenses, including Michigan and Johns Hopkins in conference play, but Corbin told USA Lacrosse Magazine that the ’Cats have yet to face a defense of Penn’s caliber.

The Quakers will likely look to turnover Taylor through consistent pressure. She has coughed up a team-high 41 turnovers, but the Tewaaraton Finalist is lethal once sent to the 8-meter. As such, throwing heavy contact at the sophomore is a dangerous game.

Expect a zone scheme from Penn, which will look to slow down the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense.

With 10.06 caused turnovers per game, NU also seeks to rattle its Thursday challenger.

Behind White, senior defenders Kendall Halpern and Carleigh Mahoney, graduate student defender Jane Hansen and freshman defender Madison Smith, the ’Cats have stepped up on the defensive end at quite the opportune time.

Email: [email protected]

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Related Stories:

Lacrosse: Scane breaks all-time scoring record, No. 1 Northwestern downs Denver 17-4 in NCAA tournament win

Lacrosse: Epstein: Izzy Scane’s legacy extends far beyond any goal tally

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Erin Coykendall nears storied college career’s conclusion

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