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Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. No. 15 Northwestern preview

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The Terps look to complete an undefeated regular season.

NCAA Lacrosse: Women's Semi Final-Maryland vs Syracuse Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After a narrow victory over No. 5 Penn State, Maryland women’s lacrosse will play its final regular season game at No. 15 Northwestern on Thursday. The Wildcats enter having won three of their last four, and their 4-1 Big Ten record is a game behind Maryland for the top spot in the conference.

First draw on Thursday will be at 8 p.m. ET, and the game will be on BTN.

No. 15 Northwestern Wildcats (9-7)

Head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. For the past 16 seasons, Hiller has been one of the most successful head coaches in the nation. She’s led Northwestern to seven national championships in eight season between 2005 and 2012, with her one loss coming against Maryland in 2010. She has a career record of 263-64 at Northwestern.

Players to Watch

Christina Esposito, 5’3, attack, No. 3. Esposito is the Wildcats’ leader in both points and goals this year, with 49 and 39, respectively. In five years at Northwestern, she has 93 goals and 139 points, including 73 goals in the past two seasons.

Catie Ingrilli, 5’3, midfield, No. 11. Ingrilli has been steady for Northwestern this year. She is currently second on the Wildcats with 32 points and 28 ground balls, and she has a shot-on-goal percentage of .803. Ingrilli has collected at least two points in nine of her last 10 games.

Strength

Avoiding turnovers. Northwestern has been careful with the ball this year, averaging only 15.56 turnovers per game, which is ranked 21st in the country. While the Wildcats’ offense isn’t as explosive as years past, they are disciplined on the opponents’ end of the field.

Weaknesses

Shot percentage. Northwestern hasn’t been efficient on offense this year, coming into the game with a .357 shot percentage, which is sixth-worst in the country. Maryland’s defense shouldn’t have too much trouble confusing the Wildcats on Thursday.

Yellow cards. The Wildcats have accumulated the fifth-most yellow cards in the country, with 38 in 16 games. Maryland should expect a physical game where Northwestern tries to halt the Terps’ rhythm.

Three Things to Watch

  1. Can Kali Hartshorn keep her strong play going? The freshman has scored 19 goals combined in her last four games and has been a focal point on offense. If her play doesn’t dip, Maryland will continue to play incredible offensive depth that will be tough to stop when the tournaments come.
  2. This game will decide Big Ten tournament seeding. With a win, Maryland would clinch the Big Ten regular season championship outright and a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Maryland has already clinched a spot in the tournament, which will take place in College Park.
  3. Another undefeated season? A win would give Maryland its third straight undefeated regular season and fourth in five years. The Terps don’t measure themselves on regular season records, but that would still be an incredible accomplishment.