CHICAGO (CBS) – Kelly Amonte Hiller’s Northwestern University team are set to try for their first title since 2012.
The Wildcats earned the fourth national seed this season and will host a regional on Friday in Evanston. As CBS 2’s Matt Zahn explains, that’s despite losing the nation’s best lacrosse player to injury.
“I think we all knew our hearts had just sunk. ‘Oh my god, did that really just happen?’
This is Lauren Gilbert talking about when teammate Izzy Scane went down with a season-ending knee injury. Scane was a superstar on Northwestern’s lacrosse team last year, leading the nation with more than six goals per game last year. But the Wildcats should play this season without her.
“Everyone has to step up. That’s what being part of a team is. You have to be ready to take on a new role. With Isabel being such a prolific scorer and a great player, we had to fulfill that role of leadership. Lauren and Jill have (It’s been) also a team effort,” Hiller said.
“I took on a heavier load. Give my teammates a lot of credit. You’re not going to replace Izzy. She set records last year. She was an unparalleled player in women’s lacrosse, so you don’t “Not going to replace that with just one person. But it was a team effort,” Gilbert said.
Graduate student Lauren Gilbert has made the most progress. His 63 goals lead the team and place them in the national top 10. It’s been quite a journey for Gilbert, who has gone from a barely contributing freshman to a team leader.
“In my first year, I think I had a total of four points in the season. I really lost a lot of confidence in myself as a player. I certainly give a lot of credit to Kelly and his family and this environment for pushing me into positions where I could do it,” added Gilbert.
“To see a player go from not much to being a confident superstar. Lauren Gilbert is a great example of the non-traditional. They come in and grow and learn, and the mental side of the game, and get better. Having that confidence Hiller said.
That’s part of the reason the Cats have continued success. And they’re in position again to hopefully make another deep run in the playoffs. They have appeared in the last two Final Fours, falling in the national semi-finals each time.
“We come in with a chip on our shoulder. I think you saw it against Syracuse. They beat us last year. They finished our perfect season. I just wanted it more,” midfielder Jillian Girardi said. field and graduate student at Northwestern.
“I think we have what it takes to beat any team,” Gilbert said. “I think it’s just a matter of discipline to do it.”
“We had the same result the two years we went to the Final Four, so we’re just ready to change the narrative,” said Girardi, who said there was a way to do it.
“Working our butts.”
The Wildcats host Central Michigan at 4:00 p.m. Friday in the first round, followed by the Notre Dame and Michigan game. The second round match will take place on Sunday.