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 trounces No. 8 Penn 20-7, advances to fifth consecutive Final Four

Graduate+student+attacker+Erin+Coykendall+celebrates+after+a+goal+against+Penn+Thursday+night.+Coykendall+scored+11+points+in+the+quarterfinal+victory+over+the+Quakers.
Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Graduate student attacker Erin Coykendall celebrates after a goal against Penn Thursday night. Coykendall scored 11 points in the quarterfinal victory over the Quakers.

A golden hue overtook Martin Stadium Thursday evening as No. 1 Northwestern established a second-quarter stronghold over No. 8 Penn, all but booking a return trip to next week’s Final Four in Cary, North Carolina.

Burying 20 of its 29 shots, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s storied program penned another dominant postseason chapter, cruising to a 20-7 victory and securing a spot in its fifth consecutive semifinal.

“It’s just everyone coming in and doing something for (the person) next to you,” graduate student attacker Erin Coykendall said. “Whether it’s cutting through or setting a pick … when you play against a zone defense, and you’re playing like that, you’re gonna get those looks you want … We did a great job of putting them away.”

Although the Quakers (15-5, 5-2 Ivy League) seemingly controlled the game’s flow at early stages, the Wildcats (17-2, 5-1 Big Ten) captured their first lead off sophomore attacker Madison Taylor’s conversion with 17 seconds remaining in the opening quarter and never relented.

For the second consecutive NCAA tournament affair, NU’s big three throttled the opposing cage, with Taylor, Coykendall and graduate student attacker Izzy Scane recording a combined 24 points. Graduate student midfielder Lindsey Frank also chipped in a season-high four goals.

The hosts recorded 14 assists Thursday night, and Coykendall dished out a game-high seven helpers.

“When you have players like Erin out there that are just so unselfish by nature, you can’t help but have that vibe when your best are like that,” Amonte Hiller said.

Once Amonte Hiller shifted freshman defender Madison Smith onto the draw, the ’Cats comprehensively commanded the circle. The Mill Valley, California, native pulled down six draw controls, countering Penn attacker Niki Miles’ first-quarter possessional momentum.

Amonte Hiller said the freshman’s competitive spirit embodies that of her older sister, junior midfielder Samantha Smith.

“When you have the combination of being a competitor, being methodical and hard working — good things are going to happen,” Amonte Hiller said. “We have great depth in the circle in terms of who we can turn to … that can be disruptive for a draw person when you have different people coming in, (but) she came in and did a great job.”

Amid the hosts’ attacking onslaught, NU’s defense rendered the potentially potent Quaker offense dormant for more than 15 minutes, spanning from Penn attacker Erika Chung’s goal with 3:50 left in the first half to midfielder Anna Brandt’s tally with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.

Graduate student goalkeeper Molly Laliberty notched five saves, while junior defender Sammy White and senior defender Kendall Halpern scooped three ground balls and registered two caused turnovers apiece.

“Consistently seeing our defense have our backs… when we weren’t really converting our shots offensively gave us the confidence that we’re gonna get our shots to fall,” Coykendall said. “A lot of credit goes to them for keeping us in that (game) because it could’ve gone pretty differently had they not played so awesome in the first two.”

With the result solidified, Amonte Hiller gave her reserves playing time in the final minutes, letting her departing seniors trot off Martin Stadium’s turf one final time.

Amonte Hiller said her husband, assistant coach Scott Hiller, reminded the group in his postgame speech that the seniors went undefeated at home in their careers. 

“That’s the standard here at Northwestern,” Halpern said. “We’ve all grown up so much. I almost teared (up) coming off the field today… We’re just so excited for another opportunity.”

The ’Cats will face Florida at WakeMed Soccer Park next Friday. The Gators scored nine first-quarter goals in Thursday’s victory over Maryland, and the matchup has all the makings of a no-holds-barred shootout with a national title shot on the line.

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