UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In a battle of undefeated conference foes, the No. 7/8 Penn State women's lacrosse team (7-3, 2-0 ALC) will travel to Evanston, Ill., to face the No. 3/4 Northwestern Wildcats (9-1, 3-0 ALC) Friday, April 5. Opening draw at Lakeside Field is set at 8 p.m.
The Nittany Lions, who will look to improve to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2003, will enter the Friday night matchup following a 16-11 upset victory against No. 2 Florida March 30. Penn State defeated the Gators for the first time in five tries, while also topping the nation's second-ranked team for the first time since 2007.
Sophomore Tatum Coffey (Toms River, N.J.) earned WomensLax.Com Co-Player of the Week honors after leading the Nittany Lions with five points (4g, 1a). Freshman midfielder Jenna Mosketti (Fallston, Md.), who tallied two goals and a game-high four draw controls, garnered ALC Rookie of the Week recognition for the second time, while senior defender Colleen Shea (Baltimore, Md.) received Defensive Player of the Week accolades.
Throughout the season, Penn State's 10th-ranked offense has relied heavily on the contributions from its underclassmen. The squad's freshman and sophomore contingents have combined to score 101 of the team's 140 goals and are led by sophomore Maggie McCormick (Eldersburg, Md.). The attacker, who leads Penn State in goals (26), assists (19) and points (45), is just three markers away from tying her 2012 total.
Seven Nittany Lions have recorded at least 10 goals, while McCormick and junior Mackenzie Cyr (Westminster, Md.) boast double figures in both goals and assists. During her career, Cyr has distributed 59 assists and is only two helpers away from entering the top 10 on Penn State's all-time list.
Sophomore Kelly Lechner (Silver Spring, Md.) leads the team with 31 draw controls, while senior defender Katie Guy (Whitby, Ont.) has posted a team-best 27 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers. Freshman Emi Smith (Denver, Colo.) has been the goalkeeper of record in each game this season.
Boasting the NCAA's seventh-ranked offense, Northwestern will enter the game following a 13-12 victory against No. 5 Syracuse. Senior midfielder Ali Cassera collected her first five-goal game in the victory en route to ALC Offensive Player of the Week honors. In 2013, four Wildcats have recorded at least 15 points, while six are in double figures. Erin Fitzgerald has registered a team-high 32 goals and 36 points.
The Penn State and Northwestern coaching staffs are very familiar with each other, beginning with the head coaches. Penn State's Missy Doherty and Northwestern's Kelly Amonte Hiller were teammates at Maryland for three seasons from 1994-96. In addition, Nittany Lion assistant coach Brooke Matthews played for Amonte Hiller at Northwestern, while Wildcats assistant Hillary Fratzke played for Doherty when she was the head coach at Towson.
The Nittany Lions trail Northwestern, 15-4, in the all-time series and are looking for their first win against the Wildcats since 2003. Following Friday night's game, Penn State will begin a three-game homestand against Lehigh Wednesday, April 10.