Northwestern lacrosse scored once in the opening 20 minutes of Sunday’s game. The team added one more goal over the next 20 minutes. And by the time it added three more goals in the final 20 minutes, it was far too little, far too late.
The No. 12 Wildcats (2-4) struggled to produce any offense for the second straight game on Sunday against No. 8 Stony Brook (4-0), falling 13-5 to a Seawolves team that was lethal in transition. Northwestern struggled to develop any sustained pressure against Stony Brook’s defense, turning the ball over a whopping 24 times. Stony Brook goaltender Anna Tesoriero turned in a nice performance with 12 saves, and was only beaten in situations that drastically favor the offense: three of Northwestern’s goals came off of free-position shots, and the other two came when Danita Stroup received a pass right in front of cage, putting Tesoriero in a very difficult position.
But while the sophomore netminder certainly did her part, it was the defense and midfielder in front of her that truly made the defense. In stark contrast to Northwestern, only one Stony Brook goal came off a free-position. Nearly every other goal came in transition: Tesoriero would make a save or Northwestern would simply turn the ball over, and it wasn’t long before the Seawolves sprung the counterattack. Quickly charging down the field, the Seawolves caught the Wildcats in odd-man situations time and time again, and not even an in-form Mallory Weisse was able to stop many Stony Brook chances where either the attacker had a full head of steam or there simply weren’t enough defenders back to help out.
Stony Brook led 2-0 after just six minutes. After about 15 minutes, the lead was 4-0. Catie Ingrilli remained hot for Northwestern, cutting into the deficit at the 17-minute mark, but Stony Brook struck twice more before the end of the frame to hold a 6-1 halftime lead.
But the Seawolves didn’t stop there. Kylie Ohlmiller struck twice in the half’s opening eight minutes to extend the lead to 8-1. Stroup stopped the bleeding somewhat with 20 minutes left, but soon the wound was ripped open again. Taryn Ohlmiller, Kylie’s little sister, scored a pair of her own in under four minutes before a pair of Seawolves got their first goals of the year to make the lead a perfect 10. Northwestern finally got some offense going with three goals in four-and-a-half minutes, and while it was encouraging, it wasn’t nearly enough. To add insult to injury, Stony Brook scored once more with four seconds showing for lucky goal number 13 in a thorough 13-5 rout.
Kylie Ohlmiller had herself a tremendous Sunday afternoon with three goals and three assists. She was a key cog in the transition game and showed off both some great vision and also lethal finishing – a pretty deadly combination. Courtney Murphy had four goals against Northwestern last year and followed that up with two more this year – she might’ve had more with the way she was playing, but she left the field late in the first half with an injury and did not return.
Speaking of injuries, the somewhat hushed-up one to Selena Lasota has proven to be quite significant for Northwestern. Christina Esposito is having a fantastic season, but it’s tough to deny that Lasota is the best attacking option the Wildcats have. With her out, Kelly Amonte Hiller has had to experiment with various replacements: Lindsey McKone impressed against Syracuse, Nicole Beardsley impressed against Notre Dame, Ellie Yenor has impressed in a few games dating back to last year, but, even still, none of them are Lasota. She was invisible at times last year, but that’s because teams usually faceguarded her with a defender. That takes a forward out of the offense, but it also takes a defender out, leaving plenty of open space for the other 12 total players to work with. There’s no word as to what kind of injury she’s dealing with, but the sooner Lasota can come back, the better.
On the flipside, Shelby Fredericks stated her case as to why she should be more involved the offense this year. She was plenty involved last year – her 22 assists were tied for the most on the time – but seems to be used almost exclusively in that draw control specialist role. There’s clearly logic to that because Fredericks excels in that area, as we profiled last year, but her offensive impact in Sunday’s contrast was impossible to ignore. She dished out a career-high three assists, two to Stroup and one to Sheila Nesselbush, to go along with 11 draw controls.
In addition, after a very strong first two games in which she dished out a total of seven assists, it remains unclear why Corinne Wessels has suddenly been dropped from the lineup. She didn’t play at all against Syracuse and only saw extended action in the second half against Stony Brook when the game was already out of reach. It’s not this simple, and the defense needs quite a lot of work, but with more Wessels and Fredericks and a return of Lasota, combined with the steady presences of Esposito and Catie Ingrilli, both of whom have now scored in every game this season, maybe the Wildcats can return to form sooner rather than later.
The Wildcats have a slight reprieve on the horizon with a home date with Marquette due up on Saturday. Marquette is unranked, but will the ‘Cats be ranked by the time they meet?