by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
Blowouts have been replaced by comebacks, but the result is the same: Northwestern is winning.
The Wildcats erased a halftime deficit to beat Virginia, 11-6, on Sunday night, led by a trio of seniors.
Attacker Erin Fitzgerald extended her team-leading goal total to 39 with three more scores on Sunday, all in the second half as No. 4 NU (11-1, 4-0 ALC) tried to erase a 4-3 halftime deficit. Fellow seniors Taylor Thornton and Amanda Macaluso added two each.
On the defensive end, senior Gabrielle Flibotte caused three turnovers and anchored a unit that held No. 11 Virginia (7-7, 0-4 ACC) to six points, nearly five below its season average.
NU got itself into trouble early, giving up two goals off turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the match. The Cavaliers scored another one before the Cats got on the board when Alyssa Leonard took a pass from Beatrice Conley in front of the net and deftly shot it around the goalkeeper for her 22nd goal of the season.
Virginia regained a three-goal lead, but Thornton did what she does best, using her speed to beat the defense and create her own goal opportunity. She capitalized for her 17th score of the year.
After a goal from Kelly Rich off of a free-position shot, goalkeeper Bridget Bianco maintained the one-goal deficit with a point-blank save just before half.
In the second period, Fitzgerald’s two goal gave the Cats their first tie, then first lead of the game.
Goals by Flibotte, Thornton and Fitzgerald capped the 8-1 run by NU and gave them a 9-5 lead.
The Cats held the Cavaliers scoreless for over 21 minutes in the second half. By the time Virginia scored again, only five minutes remained in the match. They removed their goalkeeper in an attempted comeback, which opened the door for Macaluso and Conley to notch open-net goals for the final 11-6 victory.
Draw controls once again aided in the second half turnaround. The Cats grabbed seven after halftime compared to just four in the first period, for an 11-8 overall advantage at midfield. Leonard grabbed four of them and now sits four away from tying NU’s career record.
The Cats return home for a pair of weekend matchups against No. 6 Duke on Friday and No. 10 Stanford on Sunday. NU holds a nine-game win streak against the Blue Devils and a seven-game win streak against the Cardinal.