LAX: Wildcats fall at home against #7 Notre Dame

After a strong opening weekend, Northwestern (2-1) came up short Friday night in a 17-15 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0).

Avenging last season’s NCAA Tournament quarterfinal defeat, the Irish snapped a four-game losing streak to the Wildcats in front of a packed crowd at Ryan Fieldhouse.  

Unlike the past few matchups, Northwestern was without its all-time leading goal scorer with the graduation of Selena Lasota, and Notre Dame boasted a vaunted lineup featuring Inside Lacrosse’s top two recruits in the Class of 2019, midfielder Kasey Choma and attacker Madison Ahern.

It was a physical contest that was competitive until the final whistle, including seven yellow cards, six ties, and three lead changes.

Dawning their new “Gothic Ice” uniforms, goals from attackers Izzy Scane and Lauren Gilbert grabbed the early lead for the Wildcats. Striking back, the Irish scored four straight goals with two coming from junior attacker Maddie Howe, who had four on the night.

The teams played even the remainder of the first period, but a three goal stretch by Notre Dame in the period’s final minutes saw them take an 11-8 lead into halftime, an advantage they would hold the remainder of the game.

To their credit the ‘Cats continued to battle in the second, netting four consecutive goals to draw the game level one last time at 12-12 with 16:02 remaining. Yet, for every Northwestern rally, the Irish had a response, holding on for the impressive upset.

In the loss, sophomore Izzy Scane had one of her best games as a Wildcat, reaching career highs in both points (eight) and assists (four).

During such a close matchup, the difference ultimately was goalkeeping. In her first season as Notre Dame’s full-time starter, junior Bridget Deehan notched a career high 12 saves, making huge stops every time the game seemingly got tight.  

Conversely, Northwestern faced uncertainty between the pipes. Playing in the first period, redshirt junior Julie Krupnick struggled, posting a 0.214 save percentage. Sophomore Madison Doucette came in at the start of the second, as she has in all three games this season. Doucette looked much more comfortable with a 0.538 save percentage, but her efforts weren’t enough to execute the comeback.

It’ll be interesting to see who Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller will entrust with the starting job moving forward, as Doucette appears to have the slight edge.

Despite the loss, the Wildcats will have ample opportunities to prove themselves against the nation’s elite with #4 Syracuse, #20 Stanford, and #2 North Carolina all coming to Evanston within the next month. For now, the team will look to bounce back against Arizona State this Sunday.

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