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: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award
District 65 School Board votes to close Dr. Bessie Rhodes School
Kathryn Hahn declares class of 2024 “worthy of celebration” in commencement address
Pro-Palestinian graduates walk out of 2024 Commencement Ceremony in solidarity with Gaza
‘Wildcats should have wild dreams:’ Nikki Okrah delivers optimistic 2024 Weinberg Convocation address
The Daily Explains: Contextualizing the Evanston reparations lawsuit
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Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

May 30, 2024

Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern falls 14-13 to No. 2 Boston College in national championship battle

May 26, 2024

Campus Kitchens fills plates and hearts

Why Club Sports at Northwestern?

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

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Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern fends off Florida 15-11, advances to second consecutive national title game

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Sophomore attacker Madison Taylor buries one of her team-high five goals against Florida Friday. Taylor has scored at least five points in all three of Northwestern’s NCAA tournament games.

CARY, N.C. — With No. 1 Northwestern and Florida locked at 3-3 less than two minutes into the Final Four faceoff’s second frame Friday, sophomore attacker Madison Taylor toppled over while attacking the opposing cage. Upon returning to her feet, the second-year phenom picked up a green card, putting her team a player down for one minute.

As she took to her seat, Taylor looked up to see coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. She gave Taylor some words of encouragement and patted her on the back before the sophomore retook her attacking spot.

“I just said ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Amonte Hiller said. “In games like this — where the intensity is so high — you’re going to have situations happen… Maddy was able to just shake it off and start thinking about that next play while she got that one minute rest.”

Not only did Taylor shake off the moment, but she proceeded to pile on a team-high five goals, helping the Wildcats (18-2, 5-1 Big Ten) outgun the Gators (20-3, 6-0 AAC) 15-11. 

The first unseeded team to make a Final Four since 2017, Florida packed significant heat on a day when temperatures exceeded 80 degrees at WakeMed Soccer Park, but its upset push fell short at a decisive juncture.

Although the NU attack took more than a quarter to seemingly find its footing, graduate student attacker Izzy Scane and Taylor ultimately proved too potent for the Gators’ man-to-man scheme, combining for 10 points. 

“We knew we had to move a lot, we knew we had to set those picks,” Taylor said. “We just came prepared. We didn’t start the way we wanted to, but we definitely finished.”

Behind graduate student goalkeeper Molly Laliberty’s 10-save showcase, Amonte Hiller’s defense held Florida to its lowest scoring output since a Feb. 17 loss to UNC.

Amonte Hiller said the Gators’ offensive firepower stood out on her scouting report, including the sheer number of weapons at Florida coach Amanda O’Leary’s disposal.

“I hadn’t watched them quite a bit, so I had to do a lot of prep,” Amonte Hiller said. “They were as dangerous as any team we’ve seen.”

Junior midfielder Samantha Smith commanded the draw circle for the third consecutive NCAA tournament contest, hauling in eight draw controls to help her squad compile a 17-11 margin on the possessional front. 

Facing Florida draw specialist Liz Harrison, who entered the game with 228 draw controls on the season, Smith said she saw aspects of Harrison’s game on tape that shaped her preparation. 

“We as a draw team really pride ourselves on prepping well,” Smith said. “When watching her, we noticed she uses a lot of her strength, and that’s what she relies on a lot. My speed and my quickness helped me today.”

Amonte Hiller said the program’s 2022 Final Four collapse against UNC certainly crossed her players’ minds as the game entered a weather delay just before the fourth quarter. NU held a seven-goal lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in that contest before conceding eight unanswered.

However, the ’Cats ensured they wouldn’t repeat their Homewood Field fate, firing off five final-frame finishes to ice the result.

“They stayed very calm in the situation,” Amonte Hiller said. “They didn’t want to exert so much energy because it was such a battle already. Then, (we) revved up at the appropriate time.”

Punching her second NCAA championship trip in as many years, Taylor said she’s playing with a calmer approach than her freshman season. 

The Tewaaraton Finalist scored four goals in last year’s national title game, but she’s seen her role — and defensive attention — increase significantly during a standout second season in purple and white.

“When you’re a freshman, nerves (are) going to be running high,” Taylor said. “This year, (I’m) a lot more relaxed and having a lot more fun. That was a big thing we talked about, especially in the rain delay. We were just like, ‘We need to celebrate more.’”

Taylor and her teammates put their point of emphasis to practice once the final horn blared, flinging their sticks aside as they stormed Laliberty’s cage.

NU will play No. 2 Boston College in Sunday’s national championship clash. 

“Just can’t say enough how grateful we are to be in a championship game on Sunday,” Amonte Hiller said. “We don’t take that lightly.”

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