No. 12 Maryland women’s lacrosse’s nine-game winning streak came to a close last Thursday, as it fell to No. 14 Penn State, 12-7.
Turnovers plagued the Terps all game long, as Penn State’s defense forced Maryland’s attack to take a number of ill-advised shots from outside the eight-meter arc. The Nittany Lions pulled away in the fourth frame, outscoring the Terps 5-2.
After a nine-day rest period, Maryland will take the field for the last time this regular season in a heavyweight matchup against No. 2 Northwestern.
Northwestern has been nearly flawless this season, only coming up short in its first game against Syracuse, which it lost 16-15. The Wildcats have defeated six ranked opponents this season, including then-No. 3 Boston College and No. 1 North Carolina. In addition, Northwestern has put up 20 or more goals in five of its contests.
Saturday’s game will begin at 8 p.m. and air on Big Ten Network.
Northwestern Wildcats (14-1, 5-0 Big Ten)
2022 record: 16-5, 5-1 Big Ten
Kelly Amonte Hiller has been Northwestern’s coach since the program’s inception in 2002. To say she’s accomplished quite a bit during her tenure is an understatement. Amonte Hiller is a seven-time NCAA champion as the Wildcats’ coach. She also won the national championship twice as a standout player at Maryland.
She’s a four-time IWLCA Coach of the Year, two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year and boasts a stunning record of 314-82. Amonte Hiller was recognized for her contributions as both a player and coach when she was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Wildcats have been a perennial powerhouse over the past 20 years, and this season has been no exception.
Players to watch
Izzy Scane, graduate attacker, No. 27 — Scane hasn’t lost a step after missing the 2022 campaign with an ACL injury. She leads the nation in goals (72) and points (91) this season. She tied her own program record of goals in a single game with 10 against Notre Dame. She was recently named Tewaaraton Award Nominee after being a finalist for the honor in 2021.
Erin Coykendall, senior attacker, No. 2 — Coykendall joins Scane and graduate attacker Hailey Rhatigan to form the most formidable attack group in the country, which averages 18.1 goals per game. This season, Coykendall has been Northwestern’s most versatile offensive player, with 39 goals and 39 assists. With 129 career assists, she ranks second all-time for a Wildcat. She was also nominated for the Tewaaraton Award.
Samantha White, sophomore defender, No. 23 — White is one of four Tewaaraton Award nominees on the Wildcats. She leads the team with 21 caused turnovers to go along with 20 ground balls and 40 draw controls won. White was last season’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year and won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on March 28.
Offensive production. The Wildcats lead the Big Ten in nearly all of the major offensive statistical categories. They rank first in goals per game (18.1), assists per game (9.2), points per game and shots on goal per game (27.5)
Ground balls and caused turnovers. There isn’t much that the Wildcats don’t do well. However, Northwestern does rank sixth in the conference in ground balls per game (14) and fifth in caused turnovers per game (7.93).
Three things to watch
1. Northwestern’s offense vs. Maryland’s defense. This game will tell us a lot Maryland’s defense. They’re going to give up scores, but more importantly, how will they stem the tide? Given the development of the back line’s chemistry, this match should prove to be quite the spectacle.
“[Northwestern’s] whole offense is great. They put up really good numbers,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “We need to try to just limit their opportunities and put Emily [Sterling] in a position to make saves.”
2. Can the Terps bounce back? Maryland will have had over a week of rest after possibly its toughest loss of the season against Penn State. The Terps have only been defeated twice in a row this season once, when they took back-to-back losses against James Madison and Denver.
“We can’t control what happened in the past,” graduate defender Abby Bosco said of the Penn State loss. “We can learn from it, grow from it and improve upon it.”
3. Matchup history. Maryland and Northwestern have traded significant blows in the past few years. In 2022, the Terps took down the then-No. 2 Wildcats, 15-9, to secure the Big Ten regular-season championship. Senior attacker Libby May scored seven goals in the contest. However, in 2021, Northwestern defeated Maryland in two consecutive games by a combined score of 45-22. On Saturday, the Terps have a chance to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a win.
“This is a game that I think people look forward to in the lacrosse world,” Reese said. “The athletes on both teams are excellent and so it’s a great matchup.”