2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 5 Northwestern (Women)


Izzy Scane missed all of 2022 after undergoing ACL surgery.

The 2023 college lacrosse season is almost here. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.


2022 Record: 16-5 (5-1 Big Ten)
Final Ranking (2022): No. 4
Coach: Kelly Amonte Hiller


Erin Coykendall, A, Sr.

Coykendall led the team with 81 assists over the last two years and is also the Wildcats’ leading returning scorer with 45 goals last year. Even so, she has focused on becoming a bigger scoring threat. “It was cool to see that this fall,” Amonte Hiller said. “She’s done a fantastic job and is a threat at every stage.”

Elle Hansen, M, Gr.

Hansen returned last March from an ACL injury to post career highs in goals (18) and assists (14) for fourth on the team in points. Now a year recovered from surgery and fully confident in her body, Hansen has greater expectations after playing at another level in the fall.

Izzy Scane, A, Gr.

The last time Scane played in 2021, she was a Tewaaraton Award finalist after posting a program-record 98 goals and 26 assists. An ACL tear cost her last year, but she returned to play this fall’s final game. “Just overall, she looks stronger as an athlete,” Amonte Hiller said. “Initially, she was trying to get her feet under her. But now she’s looking like herself again, and she’s doing a great job.”


Francesca Argentieri, G, Fr.

Argentieri will compete with a deep group for playing time in goal as the Wildcats look to replace graduated starter Madison Doucette. The Westhill (N.Y.) product was a member of the 2021 U18 Select U18 team.

Molly Laliberty, G, Gr. (Tufts)

Laliberty will use her final season of eligibility with the Wildcats. She was two-time IWLCA Division III Goalkeeper of the Year after leading Tufts to back-to-back NCAA final appearances. “In the beginning, she was just a little bit unsure what is this level going to be like,” Amonte Hiller said. “She’s done an awesome job.”

Hailey Rhatigan, A, Gr. (Mercer)

The Wildcats’ only other graduate transfer is another intriguing addition. Rhatigan scored 93 goals last year in her final season at Mercer, one more than Boston College’s Charlotte North. “She is really learning how we play,” Amonte Hiller said. “She’s super dynamic, and we think we’ll see great things from her.”

Madison Taylor, M, Fr.

Taylor had more than 300 draws and 200 points at Wantagh (N.Y.). Though versatile enough to play anywhere, the Wildcats think she’ll help most in the midfield. “Madison Taylor was for some reason someone under the radar in terms of her abilities, and she is a real talent,” Amonte Hiller said. “She’s going to do some great things at this level.”


Graduations: Madison Doucette, G; Brennan Dwyer, M; Lauren Gilbert, A; Jill Girardi, M; Ally Palermo, D
Transfers: Greta Stahl, A (Arizona State)


What will the draw control look like?

The Wildcats graduated 72 percent of their draw controls between Jill Girardi (183), Lauren Gilbert (55) and Brennan Dwyer (38). Luckily the draw is a specialty of Amonte Hiller, who started to sort through the replacements in fall ball. Samantha White, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year who sat third with 45 last year, is the top returner.

“We had a lot of depth last year and a lot of kids didn’t get reps because Brennan and Jill were so strong,” Amonte Hiller said. “Sam was our third option, and she ended up taking some in the national semis and she’s definitely improved a lot.”

Samantha Smith (34 last year) along with Serafina DeMunno, Carleigh Mahoney and Kendall Halpern are all expected to contribute more. The Wildcats may not have that one dominant player on the draw as in many years, but still see it as an area of strength.

“It’s really sometimes about matchups,” Amonte Hiller said. “We like to have a lot of depth in case it’s just a matchup situation and if we’re having a lot of success with one person, we’ll go with them and see where it takes us.”

What does Scane’s return mean for the offense?

The same trio of Gilbert, Girardi and Dwyer who were so strong on the draw were also first, third and fifth in points for the Wildcats, so getting Scane back will help lessen their losses. Her presence gives the offense a go-to scorer who makes others more effective.

“Izzy is just such a force that she’s going to draw so much attention no matter what happens,” Amonte Hiller said. “It opens everything up for everyone. Having her back, she’s going to create opportunities whether it’s on-ball or off-ball, or the attention she draws is just going to create opportunities for other people.”

Northwestern got just a peek of those opportunities in the fall. They did not rush Scane back to play, but practicing and playing the final fall ball game helped her regain confidence in her abilities and give a taste of how she will lift the attack.

“We’re excited for her,” Amonte Hiller said. “She did such an amazing job as a leader off the field last year that it’s going to be cool to translate that aspect onto the field.”

Who leads the defense?

The Wildcats graduated two big pieces in Ally Palermo and Doucette out of the back. Getting Allie Berkery back for a fifth year is big, and Kendall Halpern also returns after starting every game last year. White moved to defense midway through last season, but the Wildcats could play her at any level.

“I feel like our midfield is stronger as well,” Amonte Hiller said. “We feel like in the defense we have more widespread leadership. There’s definitely a lot of experience back there, and I think the goalies have done a nice job as well leading from the back.”

Northwestern is carrying five goalies. Amonte Hiller has yet to name a starting goalie, though sources say Laliberty gained the inside track with her play in the fall.

“She definitely did a great job in the fall,” Amonte Hiller said. “Our first-year Franny did a great job, too. She was a standout, too. I feel pretty good about that position with our depth.”


“Izzy Scane coming back is a headache for everybody. I think any coach would be happy to have 100 goals back into their offense. … I have no doubt they will be scoring plenty of goals. Defense is their question mark, and in the center without Girardi, but I think the Izzy Scane factor is hard to look past.”



When a team like Northwestern loses top contributors to graduation, you expect them to reload. When you think about the fact that they are bringing in the fourth-most production via transfers AND they get Izzy Scane back and hopefully healthy, there won’t be any drop-off in expectations alongside Lake Michigan. But keep an eye out for graduate student Elle Hansen asserting herself as a key contributor. She missed six games last year, but when she was on the field, she had the Wildcats’ highest individual efficiency mark. Extremely high assist and ball security numbers plus a very low saved-shot percentage equals the potential to break-out.

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