Lacrosse battered by No. 9 Grand Valley State


TOUGH SLEDDING—Freshman midfielder Maddi Bast controls the ball during Friday’s loss to Grand Valley State. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson, Sports Editor

The Northern Michigan University women’s lacrosse team was out to prove that their incredible start was for real, but the Wildcats were met with a tough challenge hosting No. 9 Grand Valley State University, and the Lakers dominated with a 21-4 win on Friday evening.

NMU (8-4, 2-2 GLIAC) hung tight with the nationally-ranked Lakers for most of the first half, and freshman midfielder Maddi Bast was doing her best to keep the ‘Cats in it. Bast scored the first goal of the game and scored a second goal in the second period falling to the ground, and an acrobatic effort got the ball past GVSU sophomore goaltender Audrey Maloney. Sophomore attacker Clara Johnson scored the other first-period goal for Northern with an assist from freshman midfielder Gabby Valadez. 

Leading 3-2 in the final seconds of the first frame, Grand Valley capitalized on a free position shot from junior midfielder Molly Bursinger with six seconds left for a crucial goal to make it 4-2. Bast’s goal cut it to 5-3 with 13:41 left in the second period, but the game got out of hand after that. The Lakers scored four straight goals to end the half, including two goals from graduate attacker Sophie Conroy within the final 1:01. Conroy and Bursinger each scored three goals in the first half, and sophomore attacker Maddy Champagne had two to maintain a good balance for the Lakers.

“I think that we just aren’t used to the type of pace that that team plays with,” NMU coach Lindsey LeMay said. “They deserve their top rank in the country, they play with pace the entire game, they get the 50-50 balls in a way that we don’t. We just don’t finish those plays, and it’s hard to watch a team do that, and not have your momentum sort of falter.”

The Lakers scored the first two goals out of the break, and held a 11-3 lead. Senior attacker Emily Renfrew scored the Wildcats’ fourth and final goal with 10:07 left in the third period, and the Lakers scored 10 straight goals over the course of the final 25 minutes to put it away.

Champagne scored two more goals in the second half to lead the GVSU with four goals, Conroy, Bursinger and junior attacker Kate DeYoung each had three goals. Three more Lakers- junior midfielder Maggie Hammer, sophomore midfielder Hailey Crittenden and freshman midfielder Ashleigh Rothe – added two goals each to complete what was a total team effort from the Lakers in impressive fashion.

What didn’t help the Wildcats was the absence of two key players, senior midfielder Jessica Daniels and sophomore midfielder Madeline Bittell. Daniels provides a lot of experience and also plays defense, and Bittell is the team’s leading scorer with 33 goals in the Wildcats’ first 10 games. Even though they wouldn’t have won the game with those two players, she said it helps the team’s confidence with both in the line-up.

“I think we’re about where I expected where we’d be, this is not a shock to me,” LeMay said. “I think it’s important for the younger kids on our team to realize what the highest high is and what the standard is if you want to be the best in the GLIAC. You really have to rise to that challenge, and we’re not quite there yet obviously. It shows how we need to grow to be able to move forward.”

The Wildcats had a quick turnaround on Sunday against No. 18 Davenport, where Bittell and Daniels both returned to the lineup. After trailing 14-3 at halftime, Northern’s valiant comeback fell short, 19-15.

NMU has 10 days off now and will be back in action at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13 at home against Concordia-St. Paul is to try and get back on the winning side.