For the first time in program history, Northwestern clinched the Big Ten regular season title.
The No. 3 Wildcats (9-0, 9-0 Big Ten) defeated No. 9 Maryland (5-3, 5-3 Big Ten) 25-12 on Saturday and 20-10 on Monday to secure its first winning streak against the Terrapins in nine years. The victories also put NU at 9-0 on the season for the first time since 2012 — the last time the Cats won a national title.
The two perennial college lacrosse powers last met during the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship semifinal in 2019, when Maryland defeated NU 25-13. The score was almost exactly the same on Saturday — but this time, it was the Terrapins who lost.
Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said she was excited about how the team managed to finish the series strong with Monday’s win.
“(Maryland’s) a very storied program, and anytime you can beat them, it’s a great thing,” Amonte Hiller said. “And it’s hard to beat the same team twice in one weekend, so I’m really excited about that.”
The Cats dominated Saturday’s matchup, powered by a nine-goal performance from junior attacker Izzy Scane and six goals from senior attacker Lauren Gilbert. In the victory, NU scored a season-high 25 goals and never trailed, leading 13-7 at halftime and shutting the Terrapins out for 11 minutes in the second half.
Amonte Hiller said she was “pretty happy” with Saturday’s win, especially with how the Cats pulled away in the second half.
Monday’s game was much closer during the first half, as the teams tied six times throughout and Maryland led twice. The Cats scored a goal with one second left in the first period to tie it up 7-7 going into halftime. But the second half was a much different game. NU exploded for 10 straight goals and held Maryland scoreless for over 23 minutes in the final half hour.
Scane again led the Cats in scoring, notching five goals. Graduate student attacker Sammy Mueller was just behind her, contributing four.
“Maryland gave us a great game in the first half, but we came out strong in the second half and really pulled out a great team win,” Mueller said.
Sophomore attacker Erin Coykendall played a big role in the team’s victories as well, scoring five goals and picking up six assists over the weekend. Coykendall said Amonte Hiller often encourages them to be the “tougher team,” and that mentality helped them succeed on Monday.
Even when the Cats won the Big Ten Championship in 2019, they had never clinched a regular season title, but that changed on Monday. Depending on what happens during the rest of the season, the Cats may have to share the title with another team. However, they are set as the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will receive a first-round bye.
Coykendall said she didn’t know the team had the opportunity to clinch the bid until after the game and that it was “super exciting.”
“As soon as we found out, we said ‘one down, but we still have two more championships to go,’” Coykendall said. “That’s our bigger goal.”
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