After a massive drubbing, like the one No. 4 Northwestern endured against No. 3 Florida last weekend, a team can go one of two ways: they can let their season crumble under the pressure or they can refuel and refocus to get back on track.
For a while on Wednesday, it seemed as though the Wildcats might fall in line with the former, but they came back to earn a much-needed victory over No. 9 Notre Dame, 10-8.
NU (14-2, 4-1 ALC) basically reversed everything that they did wrong against Florida. They played solid defense, causing 16 turnovers from the Fighting Irish. Goalkeeper Bridget Bianco allowing 22 goals and recording only one save Saturday, stopped nine shots on Wednesday, including seven in the first half. Senior Erin Fitzgerald took control of the offense, scoring three goals and recording an assist. All together, the team adjusted well and put the loss to the Gators behind it earn a victory in the last home game of the year.
While the result was uplifting for the Cats, the game was not smooth sailing the entire way.
The two team traded goals for the first 12 minutes. The game was tied at three before senor Beatrice Conley put one in the back of the net for the Cats. NU held that one-goal lead for nearly seven minutes before junior Kat DeRonda scored her first of three goals of the day to give the Cats their first multiple-goal lead.
Notre Dame (11-4, 5-3 Big East) closed the gap to one again but then committed a defensive three second foul with one second left in the first half. Fitzgerald converted the free position shot to give the Cats a cushion and momentum heading into the second half.
NU used its momentum to build an 9-4 lead with 22 minutes left in the match but allowed the Fighting Irish to work their way back into the match with a 4-1 run in the next 11 minutes.
With a two-goal lead and 11 minutes remaining, the Cats buckled down and ran nine minutes of clock before attempting a shot, which missed, giving the ball to Notre Dame with 2 minutes remaining. The Fighting Irish came close, knocking one shot off the post and forcing Bianco to grab a save before turning it over and sealing the NU victory.
The Cats will finish the regular season at home Saturday against No. 16 Penn (9-4, 7-0 Ivy). The Quakers recently clinched the Ivy League title and will attempt to snap a six-game losing streak against the Cats.
NU will honor its seven seniors: Ali Cassera, Conley, Alexa deLyra, Fitzgerald, Gabrielle Flibotte, Amanda Macaluso and Taylor Thornton.