EVANSTON, Ill. -- With their winter quarter exams behind them, the seventh-ranked Wildcats turn their attention to two more tough tests as they travel to No. 3 Syracuse and No. 9 Massachusetts in the coming days. The Wildcats will face off with the Orange in the Carrier Dome at noon CT Sunday before traveling on to Amherst for a 6 p.m. CT opening draw on Tuesday.
Watching the Wildcats
Northwestern fans wishing to follow NU's progress at Syracuse and UMass can count on live update throughout the weekend via the @NULax Twitter handle. NU's Sunday showdown with Syracuse will air live on Time Warner Cable Sports in New York state and also will offer an online radio broadcast at WJPZ 89.1 FM. Check back before Tuesday's game at UMass for updates on live video stream availability from McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
Secure Your Seats to Watch the Seven-Time Champions in 2014
Following this weekend's northeast road swing, the Wildcats are slated to make their long-awaited debut at Lakeside Field on Sunday, March 30, against defending NCAA champion and top-ranked North Carolina. Fans wishing to join the Wildcats on their quest for an eighth NCAA championship since 2005 may do so with the purchase of a 2014 season ticket package, which includes a reduced price off the cost of a single-game ticket as well as an exclusive season ticket holder gift (see below). Tickets to NU's April 26 game against USC at Wrigley Field also are on sale now!
The Orange in Brief
The Last Meeting
|No. 5 Syracuse||12
March 30, 2013
Cardiac 'Cats Outlast Orange, 13-12
A rematch of an exciting 2012 national championship game lived up to its billing Saturday afternoon in Evanston as No. 4 Northwestern edged fifth-ranked Syracuse in an entertaining affair, 13-12.
Coming off back-to-back appearances on NCAA championship weekend, the 2014 Orange feature a high-octane offense led by Tewaaraton Award candidate Kayla Treanor, whose 30 goals and 21 assists give her a team-leading 51 points this season. Senior Alyssa Murray is not far behind Treanor with 39 points, while Kailah Kempney is back as a force in the draw circle with 46 draw controls this year. Junior Kelsey Richardson has earned the lion's share of minutes in the cage while compiling an 7.86 goals against average.
Northwestern has won 11 straight against the Orange, but has been pushed to the brink in each of the last three meetings and four of the last five. Last year, the Wildcats rallied from a 7-5 halftime deficit to earn a 13-12 victory in a rematch of the 2012 NCAA championship game, a contest that also required a second-half comeback on the part of the 'Cats. It was a similar story for Northwestern's last trip to the Carrier Dome, when SU held a 6-3 halftime lead only to fall to the Wildcats in overtime 11-9, on Feb. 29, 2012.
Legendary men's lacrosse standout Gary Gait in his seventh season at the helm of the women's program at his alma mater and has had great success in that role. Gait has led SU to an overall record of 102-32 with four trips to the NCAA semifinals and one berth in the national championship game -- a 2012 loss to Northwestern in Stony Brook, N.Y. Gait won seven NCAA titles as an assistant coach at Maryland (1995-01), giving him 10 total in his playing and coaching career -- one better than his former pupil in College Park, Kelly Amonte Hiller.
The Minutewomen in Brief
The Last Meeting
|No. 14 Massachusetts||4
February 8, 2013
Los Angeles, Calif.
As has been the case in recent seasons, Massachusetts is off to another strong start with an 8-0 record entering a Saturday (March 22) matchup with Southern California. The UMass coaching staff features a distinctive Northwestern flair, with former Wildcats standouts Angela McMahon ('04) and Brianne LoManto ('12) serving as head coach and assistant coach of the Minutewomen, respectively.
UMass has limited its first eight opponents to a mere 5.88 goals per game, thanks in part to a strong .455 save percentage by junior goalkeeper Rachel Vallarelli. On attack, the Minutewomen are led by the prolific senior Katie Ferris (18 goals, 23 assists), a high school teammate of NU's Kat DeRonda at Carthage Central H.S. in New York.
One other notable tie that binds the Northwestern and UMass programs: Meaghan Bowen, the younger sister of former three-time All-American and two-time NCAA Championship MVP of the Wildcats Hilary Bowen, is a freshman who has played in three games for UMass this season.
A glance at the all-time Northwestern-UMass series shows a history of Wildcats dominance. NU has won 12 of 13 meetings and 12 in a row entering Tuesday, most recently a 16-4 outcome in the 2013 season-opener. Each of the last nine meetings has been decided by at least 10 goals.
Can I Help You?
Northwestern dropped nine assists in its 20-6 victory over Division I-newcomer Michigan on March 11, the most in a single game by the Wildcats in almost exactly two years; NU also posted nine assists on March 10, 2012, against William & Mary. The nine helpers against the Wolverines came courtesy of eight different players with only Kate Macdonald (2) registering a multi-assist effort.
Shaking It Up
Kelly Amonte Hiller has never been one to shy away from experimenting with new lineups, and the same has been true in 2014. Only six games into the season, 19 different players have appeared in the starting lineup for NU this season, already approaching the 21 different Wildcats who earned at least one start in 22 games last year. In addition to goalkeeper Bridget Bianco, seven players have started all six games: seniors Alyssa Leonard, Kate Ivory and Kate Macdonald, junior Haydyn Anigian, sophomores Nancy Dunbar and Kaleigh Craig and freshman Sheila Nesselbush.
Back In ACC-tion
Northwestern will face its fourth Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Sunday in Syracuse after winning hard-fought outcomes over No. 8 Virginia and No. 5 Duke to open the year before falling to first-year ACC member Notre Dame (9-8) on March 5. Kelly Amonte Hiller now owns a 37-11 all-time record coaching against institutions from the conference where she first made a name for herself as a four-time All-American at the University of Maryland.
In just the first month of the season, Northwestern has gained enough experience in close games that it is sure to benefit the Wildcats later in the year. NU has trailed at halftime in four of six outings, all of which ultimately were decided by just one goal. Despite Northwestern's hiccups against Notre Dame and Ohio State, the Wildcats boast a 17-5 record in games decided by one or two goals since the start of 2011.
Leonard Makes History
It's not every day a student-athlete can look at an NCAA career record list and see their name at the top, but that's the honor Alyssa Leonard has earned with her NCAA-best 359 draw controls since coming to NU in 2011. The 2014 Tewaaraton Award candidate -- who did not begin playing lacrosse until her junior year of high school -- broke the previous career mark of 353 set by Vermont's Kristen Millar (2006-09). Leonard set the record March 11 win she picked up nine draw controls in a win at Michigan, joining NU great Hannah Nielsen as Wildcats with NCAA career records to their names; Nielsen dished out an NCAA-best 224 assists in her 86 games at Northwestern, 46 more than second-place Jen Adams (Maryland, 1998-01).
NCAA Women's Lacrosse Record Book (PDF)
@NULax Gameday At A Glance
Game details, series history, facts, figures and more to get you set for Northwestern's matchup with No. 3 Syracuse Sunday afternoon...
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