In 2009, Pixar released “Up,” Microsoft just launched Windows 7 and “Viva La Vida” won Song of the Year at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards.
It was also the last time No. 2 Northwestern captured a perfect regular season campaign — one that culminated in a 23-0 record and a victory in the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
A lot has happened for Wildcats lacrosse since 2009. NU has notched two more national titles and won the first Big Ten Tournament title in program history in 2019. The Cats have also had a fair share of losses, barely finishing the season above .500 in 2016 and 2017. But through it all, NU never managed to finish the regular season undefeated — until now.
Behind six goals from junior attacker Izzy Scane and scores from seven other players, the Cats defeated Michigan 19-10 on Sunday to secure the team’s first perfect regular season since 2009.
“I’m really excited,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “That was our goal, to make it through the regular season undefeated. I think we did it, and we did it in a really dominant fashion.”
Scane agreed with her coach’s sentiment, saying the perfect record was what NU hoped for heading into the season and that the team looks to maintain the mark during the postseason. She added that the accomplishment displays how the team’s commitment to practice during quarantine and the fall paid off.
NU has reached new heights in 2021, leading the nation in scoring offense with an average of 20.6 goals per game. The Cats dominate many NCAA statistical categories, ranking first nationally in draw controls per game and points per game, second in scoring margin and fourth in assists per game.
Aside from team statistics, several NU players are attracting national attention. Scane, graduate student attacker Lindsey McKone, senior attacker Lauren Gilbert, graduate student attacker Sammy Mueller and senior defender Ally Palermo all were placed on the Tewaaraton Award Watch List — an honor given to the top player in college lacrosse.
Scane in particular has established herself as a frontrunner for the award, as she leads the nation in goals scored and goals per game, breaking NU’s single-game goal record in the process. She has also been named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week five out of seven weeks this season, in addition to being named the US Lacrosse Division I Women’s Player of the Week once.
Scane said her teammates have played a big part in her success this season, especially when it comes to recognition from the Tewaaraton and other award committees.
“As much as you can look at my points and goals and assists, you have to give as much credit to the girls who are making draw controls, caused turnovers, cutters,” Scane said. “That’s definitely what I focus on — just thanking my teammates for the stuff they do every day.”
Scane is backed up by a number of other strong attackers and midfielders. Gilbert is fifth in the country for goals scored, with 50 on the season. In total, the Cats have six players who have notched 15 or more goals in 2021.
Even while NU has enjoyed a successful season, their wins have come during conference-only play, meaning some may find it difficult to compare their successes to teams in other conferences. Despite this, the Cats are certain they can survive and thrive in the postseason.
“We’re going to bring it every day,” Mueller said. “This team is good, and while we do have a Big Ten-only schedule, we are going to prepare every game like it’s our last and we’re going to come out firing.”
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