No. 8 Northwestern hosts no. 21 Notre Dame in a premier matchup on Sunday at Martin Stadium. Here are five things you need to know before the game:
The Wildcats are on a 5-game win streak for the first time since 2014. That season was also the last time the ‘Cats made an appearance at the Final Four. Ranked no. 8 in the country, NU is feeling – dare I say – some magic for the first time in years, and it comes at a pivotal point in the season. With only four games left until the postseason, the stakes are high: the ‘Cats are looking for their first Big Ten regular season title since 2013, their first Big Ten tournament (created in 2015) title ever, and possibly their first National Championship since 2012.
2. Sheila Stepping up
Fifth-year senior Sheila Nesselbush has scored a career-high 28 goals this season, good for second on the team. Nesselbush has been on fire as of late, scoring 16 goals in her last 5 games and earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Honors last Tuesday for the first time in her career. Look for Nesselbush to stay hot against the Fighting Irish.
3. A Balanced Attack
One of Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s trademarks is an offense with threats across the board, and this season is no different. Stalwart veterans like Nesselbush, Selena Lasota and Danita Stroup have played exceptionally well, but younger players like Megan Kinna and Taylor Pinzone have also been lighting up the stat sheet. In total, eight different Wildcats have scored at least 10 goals this season, so be ready for threats to come from all angles this Sunday.
4. Goalkeeper Showdown
Arguably the most important defensive players on their respective teams, Northwestern’s Julie Krupnick and Notre Dame’s Samantha Giacolone were in completely different situations at the beginning of the season. Krupnick had just finished redshirting her freshman year, while Giacalone had finished her sophomore season and was named a preseason All-ACC keeper. Since then, Krupnick has come out of nowhere, catching fire and winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week in February as well as Big Ten Freshman of the Week last week. Coming into 2018 entrenched as the starter, Giacalone has been equally outstanding. Both keepers are identical in save percentage at .482, which leaves them tied for 26th in the country and good for 2nd in each of their respective conferences.
5. Watch out for the Freshman Phenom
Notre Dame freshman Andie Aldave is a force to be reckoned with in the world of college lacrosse. Inside Lacrosse named her the number 1 recruit in her class coming into college, and she has played up to her potential for the Fighting Irish this year, notching 21 goals, 11 assists and 75 draw controls. If the ‘Cats wants to come out on top, they’ll need to contain Aldave and put the breaks on her breakout freshman campaign.
Be sure to tune in to the action this Sunday at 12 pm! Parker Johnson and Jack Lido will have the call on our secondary Mixlr page.