Izzy Scane looks to set up a big play. She helped lead Northwestern to a Big Ten lacrosse title this season. Photo by Joanne Haner / North by Northwestern

As rain began to fall at Martin Stadium and halftime neared, Northwestern Women’s Lacrosse was tied in a 4-4 battle against the Maryland Terrapins. Then, the ’Cats pulled away.

Northwestern (15-1, 6-0 B1G) earned a convincing 13-6 victory over Maryland (12-5, 4-2 B1G) Saturday night to clinch the regular season B1G title. This marked the 15th win in a row for the ’Cats, who suffered their first and only defeat of the season in their season opener against Syracuse (15-1, 8-1 ACC).

As Northwestern heads into the B1G tournament, they hold the #1 spot in the country – their first #1 rank since 2012, when the team last won the NCAA championship. Northwestern’s win over #12 Maryland was their seventh against a ranked team this season.

The ’Cats started strong in the opening minutes of play, with first-year midfielder Madison Taylor taking possession of the first draw control and graduate attacker Izzy Scane notching the first goal of the game just 31 seconds in. Northwestern scored three more times in the first period of play – including a free-position goal by graduate midfielder Elle Hansen with less than a second left on the clock – to go up 4-2 by the end of the quarter.

Northwestern lost their lead as they went scoreless in the second quarter, although graduate goalkeeper Molly Laliberty kept it close with five saves during the period. As a sprinkling of rain and a chill in the air sent some fans out of the stadium at halftime, the game was too close for comfort.

Suddenly the onslaught began.

In the second half, Northwestern outscored Maryland 9-2 and held the Terrapins to just six shots during the 30 minutes of play. Graduate attacker Hailey Rhatigan led the charge, scoring four goals – all in the second half – which put her at #10 all-time in NCAA career goals. Taylor and fourth-year attacker Erin Coykendall each ended the game with hat tricks, while Hansen added two goals.

The ’Cats kept control of the ball – and the game – for much of the second half, collecting nine draw controls to Maryland’s three. Second-year midfielders Samantha Smith and Samantha White each secured four throughout all four quarters of play.

The Wildcats play on Thursday, May 4th in the B1G Tournament semifinals in Columbus, Ohio. Currently undefeated in conference competition, Northwestern will look to bring the trophy home to Evanston before heading to the NCAA tournament later in the month.

If their 15-game win streak and #1 national rank aren’t evidence enough, I'll put it simply: The ’Cats aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

Thumbnail photo by Joanne Haner / North by Northwestern