For just the second time in program history, Northwestern has captured the Big Ten Tournament title.
The No. 2 Wildcats (13-0, 13-0 Big Ten) defeated No. 13 Maryland (9-6, 9-6 Big Ten) 17-12 to win back-to-back Big Ten Tournament titles for the first time in program history. Sunday’s victory also secured NU’s spot in the 2021 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament as the Big Ten automatic qualifier.
“Anytime you’re playing in a championship game, you’re going to get the best from a team and especially with the Maryland-Northwestern rivalry, we knew it was going to be a battle,” graduate student attacker Lindsey McKone said. “(I’m) really, really happy we pulled out the win and super excited we hopefully will get a chance to continue this win streak into the postseason.”
The Cats climbed back from a 5-1 deficit in the first half, never leading once during the first 30 minutes. The offense began clicking toward the end of the half, when junior attacker Izzy Scane scored three goals in a row to tie up the game at seven heading into halftime.
Out of the break, NU took control. The purple-and-white held Maryland scoreless for a 23 minute span lasting part of the first and second halves — and never trailed again. The Terrapins came within two points during the second frame, but the Cats responded with three straight goals to stop their comeback.
McKone said focusing on defense and draw controls helped NU build momentum in the second half.
“It really wasn’t a matter of if, it was just a matter of when we were going to be able to string good plays together,” McKone said.
Scane delivered a powerful performance, notching nine goals to tie the Big Ten Tournament record for single-game goals. She was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player following Sunday’s matchup, in addition to making the 2021 Big Ten Women’s Lacrosse All-Tournament Team. Scane continues to make her case for the Tewaaraton Award, leading the NCAA with 81 goals on the season and averaging 6.23 goals per game.
Three other Cats joined Scane on the All-Tournament Team: freshman midfielder Kendall Halpern, senior midfielder Brennan Dwyer and senior midfielder Jill Girardi.
NU tallied 41 total goals during the tournament, tying the Big Ten Tournament record. The team currently leads the nation in scoring offense, averaging 20.62 goals per game.
The Cats will now turn their focus to the 2021 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament. NU will automatically qualify as the winner of the Big Ten Tournament, but it won’t know its first opponent until May 9 and will not play until May 14 at the earliest.
Additionally, the team is awaiting a decision on whether the program will host the first and second round of the tournament in Evanston. According to recently-released NCAA documents, Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium is under consideration as a venue.
Even though the Cats will not know if they’re hosting until May 9, the team is still soaking up victory.
“It’s awesome,” McKone said. “It’s such a good feeling coming home with a trophy.”
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— Lacrosse: No. 3 Northwestern sweeps No.7 Penn State in weekend double-header