Wildcats Lacrosse Home Primer
He’s back by popular demand. Slades2, a contributor to the lacrosse site LaxPower.com, has kindly agreed to write the occasional women’s lacrosse post for you. With the ‘Cats slated to open home play this Wednesday against BC, he offers up an early season report. Take it away…
The Wildcats, sensibly enough, like to start their season somewhere warmer than Evanston. This year’s opening trip was special as they gathered in Los Angelesto play Massachusetts and Southern Californiain what was essentially an alumnae reunion. Massachusetts is in its third season under head coach Angela McMahon (NU Class of 2004), who established the first branch of the ever-expanding Kelly Amonte Hiller “coaching tree”. This season she added Breezy LoManto (NU Class of 2012 and the Wildcats’ most recent goalie) to her staff. McMahon’s teams have performed well, dominating the Atlantic 10 Conference, but cannot match up with Northwestern in what has amounted to an annual beat down. This year was no exception as the Wildcats prevailed easily, 16-4, with Kelly Rich leading the way with four goals.
The Wildcats then met Southern Californiain the spacious, if somewhat faded, grandeur of the LA Coliseum. It marked the debut of a brand new program that is under the guidance of head coach Lindsay Munday (NU Class of 2006). If anyone has a blueprint for successfully starting a team from scratch, it has to be Munday, who participated as a player in Northwestern’s transition from up-and-comer to genuine powerhouse and then helped win three national championships as an assistant coach under Amonte Hiller. Munday has as one of her assistants another Lakesidecrowd favorite, Hillary Bowen (NU Class of 2009). The game was inevitably one-sided, as the Wildcats won 18-5 behind a balanced scoring effort and a phenomenal 15 draw controls by Alyssa Leonard. But keep an eye on the women of Troy, who may become competitive sooner than many think.
After a two week rest, the Wildcats went to the other coast to take on North Carolina. The two teams have had an intense rivalry over the years and sparks generally fly when they meet. The Wildcats had managed to put together close wins in four straight contests dating back to 2010, including two in the Final Four – games in which neither side was able to gain much of an advantage. This time, on a cold and wet night, the script was not followed as the Wildcats committed a number of early miscues and the Tar Heels capitalized quickly. Before much time had elapsed the Wildcats found themselves in a 7-1 hole. They were able to creep back into the game, largely behind the efforts of Leonard, who had another incredible performance with 12 draw controls and two goals, but it was not enough as the ‘Cats lost 11-8. It may or may not be a coincidence that the Tar Heels have as a new assistant coach Katrina Dowd (NU Class of 2010), one of the most vigorous players in Wildcats’ history.
This unfortunate turn of events was closely followed by a game at Vanderbilt, the first on the American Lacrosse Conference slate. Vandy has previously had the bad luck to be the next game on the Wildcats’ schedule after a loss toNorth Carolina. In 2010, after the ‘Cats lost to the Heels in an 18-16 shootout that broke a long-standing Lakeside Field winning streak, they took their frustration out on the hapless Commodores, who surrendered an unheard of 27 goals. This time around the Wildcats’ sticks were not quite so prolific, but they still dominated with a 15-8 win, riding a 7-goal run to pull away. The game showcased the midfield trio of Leonard, Taylor Thornton, and Gabriella Flibotte, whose ballhawking skills effectively controlled the flow of action. Their combined output for the day: 5 goals, 10 draw controls, 8 ground balls, and 9 caused turnovers. The Wildcats also got an encouraging performance from their defense, who bounced back after having been shaken somewhat at Chapel Hill, and particularly from new goalie Bridget Bianco (9 saves, 5 goals allowed).
After many miles travelled, the Wildcats finally get to play at home on Wednesday, March 6 at 5 PM when they host Boston College at Lakeside Field. The Eagles have so far had mixed results, but boast two of the better young players in the country in sophomores Covie Stanwick and Mikeala Rix.