Last weekend, the Wildcats dethroned Maryland and brought home their first Big Ten title in school history. Maryland was the clear-cut favorite, especially given that they were coming off of an undefeated regular season. In their 17 regular season games, the Terps defeated 12 teams ranked in the top 25 and finished as the no. 1 overall team in the nation.
This title game upset was a perfect representation of what the Wildcats are capable of. They previously met Maryland during the regular season in April, and after a first half of trading goals, the Terps managed to pull away and win by a margin of four.
In this Big Ten Championship matchup, the Wildcats, known for their offensive efficiency, were able to hold the Terps to their lowest scoring performance of the season in a 16-11 victory. The impressive showing bumped Northwestern to the 4th seed, leap-frogging a Syracuse team who they would now potentially get to host in a future quarterfinal.
The Wildcats will face Notre Dame today in the second round after earning a bye to open tournament play. The Irish took down Stanford 15-9 in Friday night’s first round, holding the Cardinal to a measly three first half goals thanks to the combination of a stifling defense and a chilly, windy Evanston environment.
Northwestern and Notre Dame previously faced off in South Bend at the end of the regular season, with the Wildcats coming out on top 15-11. Prior to that impressive offensive showing, only two teams had scored more than ten goals against the Irish (and none more than 13), then the second-ranked defense in the country.
NU got it done with a balanced scoring attack: Selena Lasota had five goals, and Izzy Scane and Lauren Gilbert each added hat tricks. As per usual, Brennan Dwyer controlled the draw circle, and the Irish suffered their only home loss of the season.
Notre Dame is still dangerous, though: they became the only non-top five team with a win over a top five team this season by beating #3 North Carolina earlier in the year. The Wildcats won’t be able to give an inch.
If they win, Northwestern would host the winner of fifth-ranked Syracuse and #20 Georgetown next weekend in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Location: Martin Stadium (Evanston, Illinois)
Game Time: 1:00 p.m. CT
Radio: WNUR Sports