Here comes lacrosse!

Basketball got you down? Upset with the perpetual disappointment and the constant roller coaster of emotions?

The winter of discontent is almost over. The dominance is returning to the field.

Yes, Northwestern fans often are waiting for the spring to come. Not only does that mean the snow melts and the temperatures get (slightly) warmer, it means we can compete for a national championship and not be looking at things through purple-lensed glasses. Yes, Expect Victory is not only a motivational ploy for Kelly Amonte Hiller, it is the bottom line. Her mantra, no her expectation, is Win Championships.

And so the journey for Northwestern’s eighth national championship in nine years began with a pair of exhibition games in sunny Orlando, Florida. The Wildcats split a pair of games against the Great Britain national team and the U.S. national team, falling to Team USA on Sunday.

This really is our favorite time of the year when we get to be irrational fans and overreact with dread to close wins (championships are fun, right?).

The two games this weekend were against national teams, so Northwestern was certainly pushed a bit more going up against what amounts to college all star teams rather than just run-of-the-mill competition.

Northwestern defeated Team England 11-10 in overtime on Saturday┬ábehind Erin Fitzgerald’s game-winner in the second overtime period. Taylor Thornton sent the game to overtime with 1:16 left in regulation. Yes, usual Northwestern theatrics from Memorial Day weekend typically against the national team from across the pond. Northwestern went up against a team that is just as physical as it is and passed the test. Considering it was the Wildcats’ first game of the season, the result it pretty impressive. Fitzgerald and Thornton each had two goals in the game.

Sunday against Team USA, Northwestern lost 16-9. That is not as bad as it sounds because Team USA is likely the favorite for the Lacrosse World Cup scheduled for this summer.

NU’s offense was led by its three seniors, Taylor Thornton, Erin Fitzgerald and Amanda Macaluso who each had two goals. The real player to watch, and probably the key to NU’s hopes of winning the national championship again, is first-year goalkeeper Bridget Bianco. Bianco had 12 saves including a few from 8-meter attempts.

Bianco’s presence in net will be key to the season. Bianco only has seven games of experience under her belt last year as a freshman backing up Brianne LoManto. This is a big change for Northwestern that the team will be working through in the early part of the season. The last time the Wildcats did not win the national championship was in 2010, LoManto’s first year as goalkeeper after Morgan Lathrop’s graduation.

No pressure, Bridget.

Knowing Kelly Amonte Hiller and the program she has built, there should be little concern in net. This Wildcat team is already well on its way to defending that national championship. The season officially starts Feb. 8 in Los Angeles against Massachusetts.

  • NUMBalumDave

    Now that Maryland is entering the B1G more and more people in my neck of the woods will know just where Northwestern is and what it means in terms of sports competition. Unless you mention women’s lax, that is. The number of girls around here who want to go to NU is phenomenal. They ALL want to go to NU, unless they want to go to Maryland or Hopkins or Loyola.

    And there’s nothing like going to a national championship game at Johnny Unitas Stadium at Towson University, and only having to drive about 10 minutes to the game. For me, it’s great. For NU, they have to travel out here to go up against the best competition.

    Yep, women’s lax – it’s a bright, shining star in the Purple firmament. And it guides the young women Northwest.

    • zeek

      This is why I’m hoping we get a Big Ten lacrosse conference.

      Much better to be adding Maryland and Rutgers to the schedule in place of say Florida and Vanderbilt if we do get that going. Better for our recruiting too…

  • Dozer

    Don’t forget also, six of Team USA’s goals were scored by Northwestern alumni (Shannon Smith, Sarah Albrecht, Lindsey Munday), and plus a few other NU grads contributing elsewhere on the field. I don’t feel too bad about a 16-9 loss when the winning margin was almost all NU.

  • cece

    it’s not that I don’t love national championships, but lacrosse is pretty cool, so love it for that, for always. and the program is so well run considering how few resources there have been….they only recently got a locker room. makes the national championships utterly amazing. KAH is the best coach in the nation. so buy a season ticket….it’s only $49 for 8 games. and, yes, there is a booster club, think that starts at $100. can’t wait for another season of fast tough action on the field and the stands filled with faces of male athletes you recognize from their sports. will miss Shurna in the stands and his usual routine of entering the halftime contest along with dozens of other students. yes, these girls can play, and the fans they attract are testimony to that. it’s what winning looks like.

    oh, and on the play, loving the defense of shots from 8 meters! you go, Bridget Bianco….BB? somebody post some call out names, please.