Following a successful 2020-21 season, Northwestern is expected to pick up where it left off and contend for the program’s eighth NCAA Division I National Championship.
After suffering a disappointing loss to Syracuse in the NCAA’s Final Four last May, the Wildcats’ groundbreaking season came to a screeching halt. Despite playing a conference-only regular season schedule due to COVID-19, NU proved its dominance to the nation and that it deserved its spot as one of the best teams in Division I lacrosse.
Coming into the 2022 campaign — and ranked No. 5 after a week of games — the Cats will have a high slated schedule ahead of themselves, including 2021 NCAA Final Four competitor and ACC powerhouse Syracuse. The squad will also square off against North Carolina, Stony Brook and Maryland later in the season.
Junior attacker Izzy Scane led the team, and the nation, last year by setting new program records for single goals scored in a season. But with Scane nursing a season-ending ACL injury, the Cats will have to find their offensive success from other players. Fortunately, NU is returning graduate attacker Lauren Gilbert, plus graduate midfielders Brennan Dwyer and Jill Girardi. All three players played central roles on the offensive end of the field in 2021, so these women will garner a lot of attention this spring.
On the defensive end of the field, NU returns a majority of the 2021 lineup, including senior goalkeeper Madison Doucette and graduate defender Ally Palermo. The Cats were a solid defensive team last season, but with Scane’s absence, the defensive stance must increase tenfold to combat high-attacking competition.
In her 20th season, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller has made a name for the program and continues to strive to make the Midwest a well-known region for lacrosse. Earning more than 300 games as NU’s coach, Amonte Hiller was named the 2021 Big Ten Coach of the Year following the Cats’ success last season. But with the team falling short of earning a National Championship, Amonte Hiller and her squad are aiming to bring an eighth to Evanston.
NU’s season will be a must watch this entire spring. With vital returners hitting the field this season, the Cats’ chances of repeating the same success as the 2020-21 campaign are high. The team will be back in action Wednesday against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
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