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Northwestern's Izzy Scane set records and won a national championship in 2023.

Izzy Scane Smiles in Defeat, Reflects on Dream Northwestern Career

May 26, 2024
Kenny DeJohn
Andy Mead

CARY, N.C. — Somehow, Izzy Scane was smiling. It was not contrived, not a show for the cameras.

It was only 20 minutes earlier that the national championship game, the 2024 season and the record-breaking career of Scane ended. Northwestern was on the wrong end of a 14-13 result against Boston College, which avenged an 18-6 drubbing by the Wildcats a year ago at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Still, Scane smiled. Genuinely. Sometimes it takes time for perspective to hit. It took Scane mere moments.

“I mean, losing sucks, but I think more of the emotions are coming from just a really awesome experience at Northwestern,” Scane said. “I’ve made sisters, family members, I've grown so much as a person … I’ve had some of the best experiences of my entire life.

“I’m just smiling because it’s been awesome. I love all the people that I’ve met through the sport, through Northwestern, through everything. And yeah, so it’s hard to not smile.”

The 2023 Tewaaraton Award winner and 2024 Tewaaraton frontrunner set the lacrosse world on fire last year, returning from an ACL injury that cost her the entire 2022 season — one that similarly ended in championship weekend heartbreak for the Wildcats.

She returned with a clear vision, laser-focused on bringing Northwestern its first title since 2012. The Michigan native who had childhood dreams of playing for Kelly Amonte Hiller in Evanston made good on those aspirations.

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The all-time leading goal scorer in Division I women’s lacrosse history is a defense’s worst nightmare who plays with an on-field mean streak, rides relentlessly and does anything possible to win. She’s also introspective and just downright kind.

That’s a dangerous combination, one that made her a force to be reckoned with alongside Erin Coykendall. A 2023 Tewaaraton Award finalist, Coykendall is the lightning to Scane’s thunder.

Coykendall could have led a team all her own, just like Scane. But she, too, dreamed of playing for The Lake Show. And she did more than just coexist with Scane — she thrived. It’s not unreasonable to consider Coykendall and Scane as one of the top lacrosse duos of all time, one that brought a championship back to Evanston and had a blast doing it.

“It’s very rare to have stars that get along, to be honest, in any sport,” Amonte Hiller said. “And that’s why these guys have done what they’ve done, because they’re not about themselves. They’re about making each other look good. That’s really been the culture of our program.”

Northwestern's Erin Coykendall.
Erin Coykendall was named to the All-Tournament team after Sunday's national championship game.
Andy Mead

Opposites can complement each other. Coykendall’s the crafty feeder with off-the-charts vision, and Scane is the bull dodger who sees red in the back of the net. Coykendall is sarcastic with a dry sense of humor, and Scane is the bubbly, happy-go-lucky player living a dream.

It’s perhaps their differences that brought so many people in the lacrosse world into the fandom of the Wildcats. They were approachable as a fan. And fun. Northwestern’s best performances this spring, ones in which Coykendall, Scane and 2024 Tewaaraton finalist Madison Taylor were clicking, were a masterclass in orchestrating an offense.

Amonte Hiller had a front-row seat to the poetry in motion.

“It’s very hard to put into words,” she said. “I mean, these two young women, they care a lot about Northwestern lacrosse. They’ve just been great ambassadors their whole entire career, and really, that’s what it’s about.”

Scane and Coykendall, who were drafted first and second overall, respectively, in the Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse draft earlier this month, built the type of uncanny, unspoken connection other teammates can only dream of honing. And falling one game short of a repeat isn’t enough to muddy the legacy they’ve established nor the culture they leave behind.

“You’re not going to be remembered for the amount of goals you score, the way you play, as much as you’re going to be remembered as how you are as a teammate, how you are as a person, and a leader,” Scane said. “I think that’s something, as I got older, my mentality shifted a lot towards that. You want to pour into the kids that are going to be here once you’re gone and into the culture that so many people have poured into you to help create. It's a game at the end of the day. It’s not too serious. Be a good teammate, be a good person, and the rest kind of comes with it.”

When Charlotte North graduated after the 2022 season, some asked who the next face of the college women’s game would be. Scane, both for the number of goals and the brand of lacrosse, took that title and ran away with it.

Now we ask who will take up Scane’s mantle. There’s no passing of the torch ceremony, leaving us waiting until 2025 to find out.

Whoever it is, they won’t be Izzy Scane. Even in defeat, the one-of-a-kind superstar smiled and left behind one of the best legacies a lacrosse player can leave — a winning culture at a program her younger self aspired to be part of.