For the first time in 13 years, Northwestern women's lacrosse has lost three games in a row.
F ollowing losses to Virginia on Feb. 13 and Syracuse on Sunday, the No. 6 Northwestern Wildcats (1-3) were unable to end their losing streak Thursday, falling to No. 12 Louisville (6-0, 1-0 ACC) 10-4. The Wildcats had never lost to Louisville before today.
NU struck first just 1:45 into the contest on Sheila Nesselbush’s eighth goal of the season. After Louisville tied it, Northwestern’s Shelby Fredericks scored with 25:09 left in the half to retake a 2-1 lead. The Wildcats never led again.
The Cardinals leveled the score 3:22 after Fredericks’ goal, and rattled off three more goals in the frame to head into halftime with a 5-2 lead. Fredericks struck 5:04 into the second half to pull Northwestern within two, but Louisville scored two goals in 40 seconds to extend the lead at 7-3. After Nesselbush netted her second of the game with 18:59 on the clock, Louisville scored two goals just 14 seconds apart to ice the win.
If Sunday’s game against the Orange was an offensive showcase, Thursday’s matchup with Louisville was all about defense. The Wildcats fired 17 shots on goal, but Cardinals sophomore goalkeeper Brittany Read only allowed four shots to get past her, setting a new career high with 13 saves. The four goals allowed were the fewest for the Cardinals since March 25 of last year, where the Cardinals pounded Longwood 15-4.
On the flipside, the four goals were the fewest the Wildcats have scored since May 24, 2013, in a 11-4 loss to North Carolina in the national semifinals. NU star sophomore Selena Lasota has now been held off the scoreboard in back-to-back games for the first time in her career. After being held without even a single shot against Syracuse, Lasota put three shots on target against Louisville, but Read shut her down.
Also held off the scoresheet was senior Kaleigh Craig, who had scored at least twice in each of the ‘Cats’ first three games. Nesselbush’s pair of goals vaults her into first on the team with nine tallies; she and Craig are tied for the lead in points with nine.
It’s been 13 years since the Wildcats last lost three games in a row. It’s been 14 since they’ve lost four in a row. Northwestern will look to avoid that piece of history on Tuesday when it hosts Marquette in its home opener. Marquette is unranked and fell to Louisville 14-6 earlier this year. For Northwestern, the Golden Eagles represent a prime opportunity to recover from this losing streak, especially considering that the ‘Cats will take on three teams currently in the top ten of the IWLCA Coaches’ Poll in the four games following the matchup with Marquette.