Madison Doucette Engineering Northwestern's Defensive Success


When Northwestern goalkeeper Madison Doucette stepped off the field against Syracuse last Thursday, she had some fans to greet.

A master’s student in Engineering Design Innovation, Doucette’s cohort consists of 18 students. Five of them were among the crowd at the NCAA quarterfinal, watching as Doucette and the Wildcats punched their ticket to the NCAA semifinals with their win against the Orange.

“I was joking with the five that were there, like, ‘Hey guys, I’m not going to be in class on Friday,’” Doucette said. “They were like, ‘You’re good.’ They’re understanding.”

Doucette starred on the field in Northwestern’s dominant victory over Syracuse. Her 11 saves and 73-percent save rate all but assured the Wildcats’ third consecutive trip to the NCAA semifinals and earned her IWLCA National Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Once the game ended, however, Doucette was already thinking about the work she needed to do in the classroom. Her Friday afternoon following the NCAA quarterfinals consisted of working on an engineering project. She said she anticipated plenty of work this past week, too, wanting to get ahead so she could fully be in the moment with her teammates in Baltimore.

Doucette has had to exercise similar time management plenty of times over her past four years at Northwestern.

On the field, she’s been the Wildcats’ starting goalkeeper since her sophomore year in 2020 and has led the team to two NCAA semifinals. In the classroom, she completed her undergraduate degree in Integrated Engineering Studies last year and started her master’s degree this school year.

These responsibilities were sometimes tough for Doucette to manage at first, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said, but she does an “amazing job” of balancing now.

“She’s motivated not just in lacrosse, but in every area of her life,” Amonte Hiller said. “She is passionate about what she does.”

Doucette spent her freshman year playing behind goalkeepers Mallory Weisse and Julie Krupnick. The pair were not only “amazingly talented,” Doucette said, but also taught her about both the mental and tactical sides of the game. She said she learned how to be a good teammate, communicate and be confident.

Following that season, Doucette has been a constant on the field for the Wildcats.

But her 2022 campaign has been unlike any other. She’s set new personal records in single-game saves, single-season saves and save percentage.

Doucette said focusing on the little things has upped her game. She said it’s been helpful to take extra reps in practice with Wildcats’ volunteer assistant coach Jaclen Moxley and coordinate with the defense to dictate play.

This season, Doucette has excelled with the mental aspect of her game and been cohesive with the defense as well, Amonte Hiller said.

“She’s really confident right now,” Amonte Hiller said. “She’s trusting and seeing the ball so well … She really is ready for any situation. If there’s a goal that’s let in, she’s not letting that get her down.”

Doucette and graduate defender Ally Palermo — two of the defense’s veterans — have played key leadership roles for the unit.

Doucette said they have sought to instill confidence in younger players and encourage risk-taking, whether when trying to draw a charge or going for a check. If it works out, it’s awesome, she said, and if not, then there’s something to be learned — which she feels is awesome, too.

Amonte Hiller said the best thing a leader can do is bring their “A” game to practice, which other players feed off. That’s what’s happening with Northwestern’s defense now.

Beyond Doucette’s leadership on the field, keeping up with her studies has continued to be a focus. While challenging at times, she credited her program directors and fellow students for their grace and being willing to work with her “inconsistent at best” schedule. Their support and time management skills have been key to balancing it all.

Just three years ago, Doucette played scout and watched as Weisse powered the Wildcats to the NCAA semifinals with a quarterfinal win over Syracuse.

In 2022, Doucette got to make her own history, recording a quarterfinal victory over the Orange, too. The game felt like a “turning of the guard,” she said, and was especially sweet for the program’s upperclassmen.

Now, Doucette and her Wildcats look toward North Carolina. Northwestern fell to the Tar Heels in a lopsided 11-goal loss in early March, a game in which Doucette made four saves.

However, both teams have changed since that meeting. She’s especially excited about Northwestern’s growth, saying it is in a good position to put all the pieces together for a win on Friday.

“We’re excited by how much we’ve grown, not only technically, but also, as a unit, mentally — the confidence we can bring, the trust we have in each other,” Doucette said. “We are a different team.”


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