Selena Lasota was tired of losing.
No. 13 Northwestern’s star sophomore had been held scoreless in her last two games, a 17-4 loss to No. 1 Maryland and a 14-13 OT loss at No. 16 Penn. But Lasota wasted no time getting on the board against Michigan, scoring off a free position shot just 38 seconds into the game.
Her teammates followed suit, as eight Northwestern (5-6, 1-1 B1G) players scored in the first half en route to a 20-4 blowout win over Michigan (5-8, 0-2 B1G).
Lasota finished with six goals, good for a season-high. Defenses have keyed in on the sophomore and have done a pretty good job of controlling her this year, but there was no stopping Lasota on Thursday. NU will need its speedy attacker to continue this kind of play down the stretch if the ‘Cats are to achieve their high postseason hopes.
"I think she just played and did her thing," coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. "She just played free and went out there and was dynamic for the first time in a while. That was exciting and it obviously helps the team game, too."
Senior Kaleigh Craig and redshirt junior Christina Esposito both added three goals, contributing to the explosive Wildcat offense.
After losing three of their last four, the Wildcats clearly came out with some extra fire - the 20 goals were a game-high this season. This was a must-win for NU, and Michigan, one of the few unranked opponents NU has played, looked overmatched and never really had much of a chance.
The ‘Cats did everything right, winning draw controls 19-6, out-shooting Michigan 38-12 and using suffocating defense to force 16 Michigan turnovers. NU was efficient on net and converted 15 of their 21 shots in the first half, putting Michigan away early on.
"We were able to come up with loose balls and draw controls," Hiller said. "If we can continue to play hard, that's helpful."
If the ‘Cats keep playing like they did Thursday, the hopes for their season will be a whole lot brighter. After a rough 4-6 start, NU found themselves in an unfamiliar position. But this victory might just be a turning point.
"We're happy with our performance and our step forward, but we need to continue to move forward," Hiller said.
With five games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament, three of which will be at home, NU should be able to finish its season on a high note. The Wildcats will look to keep their momentum going when they host No. 5 Notre Dame on Sunday at 1 p.m.