EVANSTON, Ill. -- On the heels of a blowout loss to conference foe No. 1 Maryland on Thursday night, No. 4 Northwestern came out determined to make a statement Sunday. Kara Mupo poured in four goals and Selena Lasota added three scores of her own to power the Wildcats past No. 10 Louisville 12-10 on a frigid afternoon at Lakeside Field.
"It’s tough to come back after a loss like that," coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said after the win. "You can either take a two or three game slide or you can come back strong, and I think we came back strong so I was proud of the team."
With the victory, Northwestern picked up its second win over a top 10 opponent in a week and moved to 6-3 on the season. Louisville, meanwhile, dropped to 8-3 with the loss.
Hoping to avenge their postseason loss to Northwestern last May, the Cardinals overwhelmed the home team early on. Draw control stalwart Kaylin Morissette dominated in the circle and senior Faye Brust scored three goals in 82 seconds to catapult Louisville to a 3-1 lead 10 minutes into the contest. However, just like when these two teams last met, the Wildcats overcame a slow start to eventually pull away with the win.
Hyper-aggressive defense and goals from Mupo, Lasota, Shelby Fredericks, Kaleigh Craig and Christina Esposito enabled a 6-0 Northwestern run in a span of 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Northwestern enjoyed a comfortable four goal or greater lead for 30 minutes until Brust scored her fifth and sixth goals of the game in the waning minutes to pull the Cards within two. Nonetheless, a controversial out of bounds call that went against Louisville ended any hope of a last-ditch comeback and secured the Northwestern win.
The biggest takeaway from NU's win was just that: takeaways. The Wildcats have struggled all year in the the draw circle in Alyssa Leonard's absence and they did again today. Louisville won the draw control battle 14-9. But Northwestern managed to make up possessions by forcing turnovers and winning ground balls: The 'Cats won the turnover battle 12-7 and earned four more ground balls than the visitors. Forcing turnovers will be key for the Wildcats moving forward because of their weakness in the draw circle. Amonte Hiller has realized that and adjusted her defensive game plan accordingly.
"If they win the draw and they can sit on it for long periods of time you lose momentum and your offense doesn’t get the ball," she said. "I think we did a good job speeding them up and playing aggressive defensively."
Highlights courtesy of BTN and Northwestern Athletics