Revenge is not often a motivating factor for the Northwestern women's lacrosse team.
This is mostly because revenge requires a loss, and the Wildcats never have many of those. However, No. 2 NU (19-2) will have an opportunity for revenge Friday night, when they take on No. 3 North Carolina (16-3) in the NCAA semifinals.
Then-No. 1 NU lost to the then-No. 5 Tar Heels, 11-8, on Feb. 22 this season. That loss sparked an 11-game win streak for the Cats.
It was a slow start in that game that doomed the team from the beginning. The Tar Heels scored seven goals in the first 15 minutes of action while holding the Cats to just one. Despite only two losses this year, slow starts have plagued NU, who has had to generate more second-half comebacks than years past.
“Every player’s going to be different, how they mentally prepare and throughout the season, they have to figure that out,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. "How are they going to be ready when that first whistle goes? Because we don’t have that window to let that first five minutes go in the game. You’ve got to come out right from the beginning when the tough teams come.”
NU has never lost an NCAA semifinal matchup, going 8-0 all-time with all of those appearances coming in the last eight years. Kelly Amonte Hiller continues to set the bar for postseason coaching, improving her record to 34-2 (.944 winning percentage) in the NCAA Tournament after the Cats victory over Penn State in the quarterfinals last Saturday. She remains the winningest women’s lacrosse coach in playoff history.
North Carolina has also had some postseason success, with six NCAA semifinal appearances, including three in the last four years. In their last semifinal appearance, in 2011, North Carolina lost to NU, 11-10. NU leads the all-time series 10-2.
The two teams will square off in Philadelphia, on the campus of Villanova, at 5 p.m. ET Friday.
“Redemption is sweet,” senior Gabriella Flibotte said. “We’re definitely looking to come back hard.”