As the regular season heads into the final stretch, Northwestern finds itself at 7-7 with two regular season games remaining. The Daily’s lacrosse reporters convened to discuss the team as it prepares for the postseason and looks to win its 8th NCAA Tournament since 2005. This story was originally published on April 20, 2016.
1. What needs to be the team’s main focus heading into postseason play?
Dan Waldman: If this team wants to a make a run in the postseason, then its defense has to improve. In the Cats’ 14-11 loss to USC last week, the Trojans scored 11 of their 14 goals off of assists, and a majority came from dumping the ball to an open shooter right on top of the crease. NU’s defense struggled to rotate to open attackers, especially in transition. The Cats’ slow rotations have been a recurring problem throughout the season, and NU needs to shore up its defensive slides to eliminate goals coming from one-on-one opportunities with the goalie.The team can improve on this by either winning even more draw controls or limiting turnovers that result in fastbreaks.
Claire Hansen: You’ll hear Kelly Amonte Hiller and the players say it all the time: They just need to play their game. There’s no question that the Cats have some of the best talent in the country. Their major losses this year have come from a kind of sloppiness that is uncharacteristic of NU. If the Cats can tighten up their fundamentals — limiting turnovers, sharpening their passes, taking care of the ball — they’re going to have no problem finding success in both the Big Ten and, if they make it, the NCAA.
To find out what else our writers had to say, click here for the full analysis.