2016, you have been avenged.
Nine months ago, Notre Dame ended Northwestern’s season with a dominant 15-3 win in the NCAA Tournament. But in Sunday’s rematch, the No. 9 Wildcats (2-0) went up early and held on late against No. 8 Notre Dame (0-1) for an impressive 14-13 win on the road.
Kelly Amonte Hiller didn’t hold anything back in her scheduling for 2017, giving Northwestern a road matchup against a top-10 team for its second test of the season. Her team responded well despite losing a huge early lead and then nearly losing a three-goal lead with two minutes to go.
The Irish won the opening draw control and scored the first goal of the match, but Northwestern quickly responded with a goal from Sheila Nesselbush. Northwestern then went on an impressive 7-1 behind a first-half hat trick from Selena Lasota. Her first goal came off a spectacular jump-shot across her body that beat Notre Dame keeper Samantha Giacolone. Northwestern’s offense looked completely unstoppable as Lasota, Nesselbush and Christina Esposito ran circles around Notre Dame.
Northwestern’s huge 6-0 run was facilitated by good draw controls and tough defense. But Northwestern’s discipline on those two fronts fell apart as the half ended. Notre Dame ripped off a 7-2 run of its own behind star player Cortney Fortunado. The run was reminiscent of Notre Dame’s 9-0 run against Northwestern in last year’s NCAA Tournament. With the game suddenly tied, Northwestern managed to pick up a goal from Christina Esposito in the dying seconds of the first half to make it 10-9.
The second half started similarly to the first 10 minutes of the first. Northwestern scored three unanswered goals and Lasota scored another stunner for her fourth of the day. But Notre Dame just wouldn’t go away. Fortunado finished her hat trick to make it 13-11 Northwestern with 12 minutes remaining.
Nicole Beardsley got her first of the season with 11:23 left in the game, restoring Northwestern’s lead to three.
With Mallory Weisse in net and a tough defense in front of her, that proved to be enough. The sophomore goalie was phenomenal with eight saves in the second half alone and 10 total. But Northwestern failed to score after Beardsley’s goal, allowing Notre Dame to score twice in the final three minutes to cut the lead to 14-13. The second goal came off a Grace Muller penalty shot that deflected off of Weisse’s shoulder.
With a minute remaining Northwestern needed to win a draw control to seal the game. The ball skittered out into Notre Dame territory before Lasota picked it up. Although the Wildcats gave up possession with five seconds remaining, that was enough for the 14-13 victory.
The Wildcats head west a week from today, taking on Colorado on February 12.
Oh yeah, also: