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: Breaking down No. 1 Northwestern, Florida’s key figures

Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Graduate student attackers Izzy Scane and Erin Coykendall hug during their second-round victory over Denver.

Following an eight-day preparation period, No. 1 Northwestern and Florida are set to face off in Friday’s first Final Four battle in Cary, North Carolina. With the winner advancing to play the victor of No. 2 Boston College and No. 3 Syracuse on Championship Sunday, a national champion will soon be crowned at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The four remaining squads boast 71 combined victories, forming some of the nation’s most comprehensive collective units. At this stage, it’s hard to find weaknesses in any team’s winning formula, but only one will cut down the nets by the weekend’s conclusion.

The Wildcats (17-2, 5-1 Big Ten) and the Gators (20-2, 6-0 AAC) will clash at 2 p.m. CDT, before the Eagles (18-3, 7-2 ACC) take on the Orange (16-5, 8-1 ACC) in a rematch of last season’s semifinal showdown.

Ahead of Friday’s decisive duels, here are some key figures to know between NU, Florida and beyond.

Top-five scoring threats

The Gators and the ’Cats are the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 scoring offenses, respectively. Four players on the field may eclipse the 100-point mark by the end of Friday’s game.

Florida attacker Maggi Hall can simply do it all. With 60 goals and 54 assists this season, the junior is effective as a feeder, dodger and finisher. But, the Gators possess complementary pieces capable of breaking a game wide-open — like attacker Danielle Pavinelli.

“We have an unselfish offense, they’re super potent (and) they share the ball well,” Florida coach Amanda O’Leary said at a Zoom press conference Monday. “When people try to hone in on Maggi or Danielle, we have a supporting cast that can pick up.”

For NU, graduate student attackers Erin Coykendall and Izzy Scane and sophomore attacker Madison Taylor form a three-headed monster that has combined for 43 points in two NCAA tournament games.

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller has also seen significant contributions from graduate student attacker Dylan Amonte and graduate student midfielder Lindsey Frank. The latter is fresh off a season-high four goal performance against No. 8 Penn.

Commanding the draw circle

The ’Cats have faced their fair share of dynamic draw takers, including Maryland’s Shaylan Ahearn, Syracuse’s Kate Mashewske, Notre Dame’s Kelly Denes and Johns Hopkins’ Jennifer Barry, but the Gators’ Liz Harrison has hauled in an otherworldly draw control figure.

While Florida has played three more games than NU, Harrison’s 228 draw controls mark an absurd tally. She has pulled down more draws than junior midfielder Samantha Smith, freshman defender Madison Smith and Taylor’s combined 209 figure.

“To get to this point, you have to have a great draw taker, you have to have a great draw team,” Amonte Hiller said. “So, we have to be prepared for a battle there.”

Amonte Hiller’s group has won the draw battle in five of its last six outings.

She said playing against several elite draw units this season has prepared the ’Cats for Friday’s matchup in the circle.

“It’s one thing to practice against your own draw takers, but it’s another thing to go and get lots of reps up against the best draw takers in the country,” Amonte Hiller said. “The different styles, the different types of sticks, it’s really helpful to have that experience.”

With the Gators carrying a knack for a make-it, take-it style of play, commanding possession from the draw will be key Friday.

Elite scoring, defensive units on display

Florida has the top scoring offense and scoring defense among the four remaining squads, pouring in 18.05 goals per game and conceding just 8.19 goals against per game. However, NU’s 17 goals per game and 10.06 goals against per game are nothing to scoff at.

“The biggest thing about Florida is they have a lot of weapons on the offensive end,” Amonte Hiller said. “We have to play great team defense.”

According to Lacrosse Reference, the Gators possess the nation’s most efficient offense and a Division I-best 55.2% shooting clip. O’Leary’s group methodically marches down the field and displays savvy shot selection.

Meanwhile, the ’Cats have proven to be kryptonite — even for the most stingy defenses across the country. 

The goalkeepers

It takes a tremendous shot stopper to make a Final Four appearance, and it’ll require pristine performances to come out on top. Some of the college game’s top goalkeepers will descend upon Cary this weekend.

Florida goalkeeper Elyse Finnelle concedes an average of 8.7 goals per game and boasts a remarkable 54% save percentage. She’s been infallible during the postseason, and O’Leary will need Finnelle to find another level to optimize an upset shot on Friday.

Although graduate student goalkeeper Molly Laliberty has taken hits to her goals against and save percentage stats from last season, the former Tufts star seems to have regained her national championship form during this year’s NCAA tournament.

Laliberty has allowed just nine goals in her past two contests and looks to help NU become the first team to repeat as national champions since Maryland in 2014 and 2015.

Email: [email protected]

X: @jakeepste1n

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Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern trounces No. 8 Penn 20-7, advances to fifth consecutive Final Four

Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern seeks fifth consecutive Final Four appearance against No. 8 Penn

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