NU women win lacrosse thriller, 13-12

This was as good as it gets.

                Close throughout.  Fast and physical.  Highlight-reel goals. Stunning passes. Huge saves.  Explosions of scoring.

                That goes for both the teams playing a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship game, when Northwestern had beaten Syracuse for its seventh title in eight seasons.

                And the No. 4 Wildcats did it again, coming back from three- and two-goal deficits to win their 11th straight over No. 5 Syracuse 13-12.

                Ali Cassera had a career-high five goals for Northwestern (9-1), which killed the final 3 minutes, 30 seconds of the game with a perfectly executed stall.

                Wildcat goalie Bridget Bianco made 8 saves, and Alyssa Leonard scored the game-winner on a brilliant pass from Amanda Macaluso with 6 minutes, 9 seconds to play.

                Since draw controls and the ensuing possession are so important in women’s lacrosse, where contact is limited, it was astonishing that Northwestern had lost nine of the first 10 draws yet led 5-4.

Turnovers and five big saves by Wildcat goalie Bridget Bianco kept Syracuse from blowing the game open after it led 4-1 early in the first half.  At the point, the Orange were utterly dominant, aggressively pressuring on defense and using their speed to find huge gaps in the Northwestern defense.

The Orange went back ahead again with two goals in 26 seconds late in the half and were ahead 7-5 at intermission.

Northwestern would win just two of 13 draws in the first half, and both owed to Syracuse fouls.



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