No. 1 Northwestern at No. 5 North Carolina
Friday, Feb. 22 6 p.m. CT
Fetzer Field Chapel Hill, N.C. Live Twitter Updates:@NU_SportsLIVE Live Stats:GoHeels.com Live Video:GoHeels.com (Subscription Required)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 1 Northwestern embarks on its second road trip of the young 2013 season this weekend, ready to face perennial national title contender North Carolina Friday night before heading to Vanderbilt in an early-season American Lacrosse Conference matchup. The 'Cats and Heels will do battle under the lights in Chapel Hill (6 p.m. CT) while Sunday's opening draw in Nashville is set for 1 p.m. CT.
On The Web
Both GoHeels.com and VUCommodores.com plan to provide live streams of this weekend's games through their subscription-based video services sites. Fans can also follow @NU_SportsLIVE on Twitter for live updates and commentary throughout both outings.
Milestone 200th Win Within Reach For Amonte Hiller
This weekend has the potential to be a notable one for Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, who with victories over North Carolina and Vanderbilt would reach 200 wins in her incredible career (198-30). Amonte Hiller averaged 18 wins per season through her first 11 years as head coach and is currently ninth among active Division I head coaches in career wins. All eight coaches in front of her on the active list have been head coaches at the Division I level for at least 17 years.
Scouting the Tar Heels 2013 Season: 2-1 (0-0 ACC), No. 5 IWLCA 2012 Postseason: NCAA Tournament quarterfinalist (lost to Syracuse) Head Coach: Jenny Levy (Virginia, '92), 18th year at UNC (225-93) Key Players: Kara Cannizzaro (Sr., M): 8 goals, 4 ground balls; Abbey Friend (Jr., A/M): 4 goals; Emily Garrity (Sr., M): 5 assists, 3 draw controls In the Cage: Lauren Maksym (Sr., GK): 10 saves, 4.5 GAA Series History: NU leads 10-2 (last meeting: Northwestern 8, North Carolina 7; April 13, 2012, Evanston)
A meeting between Northwestern and North Carolina almost always guarantees a tightly contested affair, with each of the last three games in the series resulting in one-goal outcomes (NU won all three). NU's Taylor Thornton has been a thorn in the side of North Carolina over the last two years, beginning with her overtime game-winning goal in Chapel Hill on Feb. 25, 2011. Last season, Thornton netted back-to-back goals to open the second half and recorded a career-high six ground balls in helping NU defeat then-No. 3 UNC, 8-7, in Evanston. The 2013 Tar Heels recently bounced back from a season-opening defeat to top-5 foe Florida by posting wins over Towson and Richmond.
Scouting the Commodores 2013 Season: 1-2 (0-0 ALC) 2012 Postseason: None Head Coach: Cathy Swezy, 15th year (131-118) Key Players: Carly Linthicum (Sr., A): 15 goals, 4 assists; Kelly Chandler (Fr., M): 5 goals, 6 ground balls; Mallory Schonk (Fr., A): 6 caused turnovers, 5 ground balls In the Cage: Chelsea Pasfield (Sr., GK): 23 saves, 11.20 GAA, .451 save percentage Series History: NU leads, 11-3 (last meeting: NU 13, Vanderbilt 6 (March 23, 2012)
Vanderbilt begins this week with a 1-2 mark following a one-goal home loss to Denver Saturday (Vanderbilt hosts Boston College Wednesday). The 'Dores have seen senior attacker Carly Linthicum score exactly five goals in each of their first three outings this season after finishing fourth on the team in points a year ago. GK Chelsea Pasfield is in her first full season as a starter after starting nine total games over the last three.
Away We Go in the ALC
Northwestern and Vanderbilt have the honor of meeting in the first American Lacrosse Conference matchup of the 2013 campaign, kicking off the 12th year in the history of one of the nation's top women's lacrosse conferences. The 'Cats own an all-time record of 55-13 against ALC opponents and have claimed seven of 11 ALC Tournament titles in the league's history.
The Wildcats also will be taking part in the next game on the ALC schedule this year when it travels to Johns Hopkins on March 9. The first intra-conference game not involving Northwestern this season will be played March 17 when Vanderbilt heads to Penn State.
Leonard Off to Fast Start in 2013
As one of the key factors in NU's run to a seventh NCAA championship in 2012, Alyssa Leonard wasted no time showing off her prowess in the draw circle at the outset of her junior campaign. Leonard accumulated 24 draw controls in two games, including an NCAA single-game record-tying 15 against USC on Feb. 9. Leonard's big weekend -- which earned her American Lacrosse Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors -- vaulted her from seventh to second on NU's career draw controls list with 205, 63 behind Kristen Kjellman's mark of 268. Additionally, Leonard has moved into a tie for 12th all-time in Division I for career draw controls.
First Things First
The Wildcats' season-opening wins over UMass and USC offered the chance for several NU freshmen to make their first on-field contributions to their new squad. Defender Lauren Murray appeared in the starting lineup in both contests and made her presence known with a game-high three ground balls against the Trojans, while midfielder Kaleigh Craig also saw plenty of field time and scored the first goal of her career against USC. Attacker Christina Esposito also notched two ground balls and a caused turnover in her debut against the Minutewomen.
New Face in the Cage
Northwestern debuted a new anchor to its defense when it took the field on opening weekend following the graduation of three-year starting goalkeeper Brianne LoManto, who last year ranked in second in the country in goals against average (7.17). Sophomore Bridget Bianco earned her first career start against UMass and recorded six saves in a 16-4 Wildcats victory. Bianco, who appeared in seven games as a reserve in 2012, also performed well in the preseason Champion Challenge against Team USA, staring down the world's best attack unit to the tune of 12 saves.
2013 Season Tickets Now on Sale!
Northwestern Lacrosse invites fans to be part of NU's drive for an eighth national championship in the last nine years by securing season tickets for the 2013 campaign, now available for purchase online or by calling the NU Athletics Ticket Office at 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775). Season ticket packages offer fans savings of 15 percent off gameday ticket prices and also provide several benefits exclusive to NU Lacrosse season ticket holders, including a commemorative NCAA championship banner.
Northwestern's next test after this weekend's road trip will come in the familiar confines of Lakeside Field, as the Wildcats make their home debut on Wednesday, March 6 against Boston College (5 p.m.). The 'Cats, who own a home record of 82-2 since the 2005 season, last hosted the Eagles in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, an 11-8 Northwestern win in the first meeting for the two schools since Northwestern regained varsity status in 2002.
The game also will mark the return to Evanston of two former Wildcats now patrolling the sideline for Boston College. Acacia Walker is in her first season as head coach of the Eagles after spend three seasons as an assistant coach under Kelly Amonte Hiller, helping guide NU to NCAA championships in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Last summer, Walker tabbed three-time IWLCA All-American and 2012 Northwestern graduate Alex Frank as an assistant coach on her staff.