Two of the most prestigious, successful women’s lacrosse squads take the field Thursday night for a battle to claim the title of Big Ten champions. But there’s more.
Northwestern and Maryland. Just the thought of these two schools make national champions constantly ring in your brain. Winners of 18 of the past 23 titles, when these teams take the turf, it’s destined to be an instant classic.
The Terps have claimed the past seven meetings, but the Wildcats' most recent win in the series propelled them to their seventh national title. Overall, Maryland holds the 14-6 series advantage.
This season has proved more of the same for these top 10 foes: Consistency. Northwestern enters at 13-3, ranked seventh with 8 consecutive wins. Maryland comes in winners of 13 straight and comfortably clinging to the No. 3 ranking.
RANKINGS: Inside Lacrosse Top 25 poll
Both teams arrive in College Park, Maryland, Thursday sitting atop the Big Ten at 5-0: The Terps coming off a momentum-building five-goal victory over third place Penn State; the Wildcats coming off a statement-making, 12-goal win over Rutgers.
What to watch for on offense
Northwestern senior attacker Shelby Fredericks makes the wheels churn for the Wildcats’ offense. Averaging nearly three assists per game, her teammates Selena Lasota and Sheila Nesselbush know who to look to when tight-roping the crease. The pair have tallied 86 goals and added 25 assists of their own.
Maryland’s Megan Whittle has been the driving force for the Terps attack this season. The senior recently broke the Maryland all-time scoring record and ranks ninth nationally in goals averaging just under four goals per game. Junior midfielder Jen Giles has tried to help balance the scoring load (it’s tough with Whittle), dishing out 19 assists on the year.
What to watch for on defense
The anchor in cage for the Wildcats is sophomore Julie Krupnick, who ranks in the top 20 nationally in save percentage this season. Also keep an eye out for Lindsay Darrell and Ally Mueller. The pair of seniors have controlled the defense and have been essential assets to Northwestern's success. They help the Wildcats cling to an impressive 9.1 goals against per game average.
Junior Megan Taylor controls the cage for Maryland. She ranks ninth nationally in goals-against average and has shined recently, allowing no more than 10 goals in the Terps' last seven games. Sophomore Lizzie Colson and senior Julia Braig clean up the ground balls and hold down the defense alongside Taylor.
The thought of it being a national championship game always reigns when these two squads step on the turf. Not a national champion, but a Big Ten regular season champion will be crowned in College Park Thursday evening.