Kaleigh Craig and Selena Lasota logged hat tricks and Corinne Wessels exploded for four goals as No. 11 Northwestern women's lacrosse (2-3) withstood a strong effort from Marquette (2-5) and opened Lanny and Sharon Miller Stadium with a 17-11 win.
With their leading goal-scorer Sheila Nesselbush out with an unspecified lower body injury, the 'Cats needed members of the supporting cast to step up in her stead. Wessels did just that, scoring her first four goals of the season in some big spots and adding an assist to help NU pull away from a pesky Golden Eagles squad.
Wessels, a sophomore who scored just 11 goals all of last season, said Nesselbush was her inspiration this afternoon, and had "SN" written in marker on her wrist.
"Sheila is the workhorse of our team, and it really hurts having her out," Wessels said. "Every time I got an opportunity I had her in my heart, and I knew I was going to put the ball in the net for her and for all of my teammates."
Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller did not elaborate on the nature of Nesselbush's injury, but said she was impressed by Wessels' breakout performance.
"Corinne played her heart out today, and I think she really did some great things on the field," Amonte Hiller said. She hustled, just incredibly, and if we can get that from her we're going to be a much better team."
After falling behind 1-0 early, a Christina Esposito goal kickstarted a 5-0 NU run over the next eight minutes that included goals from Kaleigh Craig, Danita Stroup, Esposito again and, almost surprisingly, Selena Lasota. It was the first time in three games that the star sophomore from British Columbia found the back of the net.
Marquette broke the run with a couple goals of its own, but goals by Shelby Fredericks and Craig extended NU's lead to 7-3 with a little over four minutes in the half. That four-goal lead only stood thanks to two creative bounce-shot goals from Wessels, as Marquette scored twice more in the first half and went to the sideline trailing 9-5.
In an odd juxtaposition of stats, Northwestern won the first half turnover battle 14-6, but lost the first half draw control battle 11-4, giving Marquette more possessions and allowing them to capitalize on their nine shots on goal.
The Golden Eagles cut the deficit to two twice in the second half, scoring two unanswered to make it just 10-8 NU with 19 minutes left, and clawing their way back from a 12-8 hole to make it 12-10 with a solid strike and a lucky, slow roller that somehow made its way past goalkeeper Mallory Weisse.
But as they did in the first half, the 'Cats reeled off a 5-0 run, this time putting the game to bed. Craig and Wessels started the run by finishing off their hat tricks and making it 14-10, giving NU the breathing room it had been looking for all afternoon.
Freshman Ellie Yenor scored her first career goal, and Wessels and Lasota added one more each to make the final score look deceptively one-sided. Marquette tacked one on late, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Wildcats ran out the clock on a 17-11 win in their home opener.
NU totally flipped the script on the draw control battle, winning it 14-1 in the second half and 18-12 in the game. The Wildcats also outshot Marquette 36-19.
Amonte Hiller's squad will have the rest of Reading Week to rest up before they face a stiffer opponent in No. 10 Stony Brook at Miller Stadium on Saturday.