A three-point performance from senior captain Kaleigh Craig and another strong showing from freshman goalie Mallory Weisse were not enough for Northwestern Saturday, as the No. 4 Wildcats (1-1) fell to the No. 10 Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) by a score of 10-8 in the Cobb County Classic on the campus of Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
Craig scored 4:30 into the game to put the ‘'Cats up 1-0. The teams then traded leads in the first half, with the Cavaliers taking a 2-1 lead, the 'Cats regaining the lead at 3-2 and then the Cavs scoring three straight to head into halftime leading 5-3. Virginia junior midfielder Posey Valis struck with 12 seconds remaining in the period to send the Cavaliers into the locker room feeling good.
But the 'Cats weren’t ready to give up just yet. Northwestern’s Shelby Fredericks and Selena Lasota scored three minutes apart to level the score at five apiece with 26:18 remaining. Virginia took over from there. The Cavaliers scored twice in a 3:29 span to retake a 7-5 lead. After Northwestern’s Christina Esposito scored to pull the ‘Cats within one, the Cavs rifled off three straight to take a 10-6 lead with 6:10 to play.
Once again, Fredericks and Lasota struck, this time separated by just 35 seconds, to bring Northwestern to within two scores with 4:39 left on the clock. But the ‘'Cats couldn’t complete the comeback, handing the Cavaliers a 10-8 win in their season opener.
Craig led the Wildcats offensively with two goals and an assist, while Lasota and Fredericks each had two. Esposito and junior Danita Stroup rounded out the scoring for the ‘Cats. Craig has now scored at least two goals in 14 of her last 15 games, while Lasota has done so in 22 of her last 23. Lasota also led either team with nine shots.
Virginia had five players score two goals, led by a strong overall game from sophomore midfielder Kasey Behr. She contributed two goals, both of which came from free position chances, on six shots, as well as three ground balls, three draw controls and an assist. Senior midfielder Mary Alati’s goal with 8:43 to play proved to be the game-winner.
Earlier this week, Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller didn’t confirm that Mallory Weisse would be the de facto starting goaltender for the rest of the season, but the freshman netminder helped her cause once again Saturday. Following her eight-save performance last weekend against Duke that earned her the National Rookie of the Week award from Inside Lacrosse magazine, Weisse turned aside 10 Virginia shots this week, albeit in a losing effort. She was outshone, however, by her adversary from across the field: Virginia’s Rachel Vander Kolk, the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year, who made 12 saves for the Cavaliers, including three in the final 10 minutes.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for the Wildcats. After taking on two top-10 teams in two weeks, Northwestern gets a week off before heading out to take on No. 3 Syracuse on Feb. 28 and then Louisville on March 3 before their home opener against Marquette on March 8.