March 6, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
The University of Louisville women's lacrosse team will be handed arguably its toughest challenge in program history, facing top-ranked Northwestern on Wednesday, March 7. First draw at the U of L Lacrosse Stadium is set for 5 p.m.
Admission is free. The first 100 students will receive an adidas T-shirt, and the first 200 fans will receive Louisville lacrosse schedule keytags.
The contest marks just the second time in school history the Cardinals will be facing a top-five ranked opponent and the first facing a top-ranked school.
Statistically, both teams rank in the top 25 nationally in caused turnovers (Louisville is No. 9; Northwestern is No. 25), draw controls (Louisville is No. 21; Northwestern is No. 25) and ground balls per game (Louisville is No. 18; Northwestern is No. 25). Northwestern ranks second in scoring defense and sixth in scoring margin.
The Cardinals (1-2) have been idle for more than a week after their home-opening game against Denver on March 2 was canceled due to dangerous weather. Louisville's last contest came on Feb. 26 against Old Dominion in which the Cardinals dropped a 14-12 decision. Sophomore Nikki Boltja, who currently ranks third nationally in goals per game (4.57), scored five goals on five shots. Classmates Hillary Bushway and Jamie Redding had two goals apiece, and freshman Cat Gordon won six draw controls.
Northwestern (4-0) last played Oregon, posting a 15-2 victory on March 3. Jessica Russo had a game-high four goals and was one of 11 Wildcats to register a point in the game. Casey Bocklet matched Russo for a game-best four points, tallying two goals and earning two assists. Defensively, Lacey Vigmostad and Erin Fitzgerald combined for 10 ground balls and seven caused turnovers. Collectively, Northwestern outshot Oregon, 35-7, and won the draw control battle, 14-5.
The Wildcats are under the direction of 11th-year coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, who has led them to a 179-28 overall mark. Last year, the Wildcats went 21-2, capturing the conference and national championship titles. Northwestern boasts a pair of Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List candidates in Shannon Smith (2011 Tewaaraton and Honda Sports Award winner) and Taylor Thornton (2011 IWLCA Division I Defender of the Year).