A well-rested #2 Northwestern team (14-0), coming off two weeks of rest and preparation, caught a Denver team (16-2) with only two days of rest in the second-round NCAA tournament match in Evanston, Illinois. The Wildcats had the fresh legs and plenty of speed and talent to defeat Denver on their home field at Martin Stadium, 19-4.
Molly little scored Denver’s first two goals in the first half. Unfortunately, Northwestern scored five goals in-between to take a 5-2 lead with 15:30 remaining in the first half. Thirty seconds later the Wildcats Erin Coykendall scored to build a four-goal edge, 6-2. Northwestern reeled off three more goals by Sammy Mueller, Izzy Scane and Lauren Gilbert to pull away from the Pioneers. With 3:44 remaining, Denver’s Kayla DeRose broke the Northwestern scoring streak with a beautiful free position goal to make the score 9-3. Molly Little unloaded a rifle shot from the point with 19 seconds left in the half, 9-4. Denver goalkeeper Amelia Cole had 10 saves in the half to keep the Wildcats within reach at the break. Northwestern forced numerous turnovers, stopped clears, controlled ground balls and dominated on draw controls (12-2).
— Denver Women’s Lacrosse (@DU_WLAX) May 16, 2021
Northwestern shut out Denver in the second half. Despite a scoring drought by both sides early in the half, Northwestern finally scored after seven minutes on a free position goal to go up by six points, 10-4. Seven consecutive goals later, five in a row by Izzy Scane, put Northwestern was up 17-4 with 9:21 remaining. Northwestern added two more goals by Lauren Gilbert and a free position goal by Eve Hritzuk. Denver spent nearly all the half on defense after losing nearly all the draw controls and turning the ball over on the offensive end, rarely getting into any offensive rhythm. A running clock and a 10+ goal lead shortened the final 16 minutes and put a merciful end to the game.
Even on Denver’s best day, this would have been a challenging game to compete with the super-talented Wildcats with the clear talent edge, fresh legs, and home-field advantage which made the game an unfortunate mismatch. Nothing to be ashamed of but surely a disappointing game to conclude an outstanding season.
Photo: Courtesy of Northwestern Athletics