NOTRE DAME, Ind.- For the fourth time in its last six NCAA appearances, the No. 8 Notre Dame women's lacrosse team is packing its bags and heading West to Evanston, Ill., to meet the No. 2 Northwestern Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The two will battle for the right to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals at 4 p.m. (ET) on Saturday at Lakeside Field.
The winner between the Irish and the Wildcats will play the winner of the Duke-Virginia matchup next weekend.
Fans can follow the contest in a number of ways. In addition to the usual live stats, the B10 Digital Network will have a free video broadcast of the game, while Northwestern is offering a free radio broadcast of the game. Fans that have an iPad or an iPhone can also watch the game usingBTN2Go if you have the required able service providers. Links for live stats and all of the other options will be available on UND.com. The game will also be rebroadcast on Monday on the B10 Network at 5:30 p.m. (ET).
The matchup with the Wildcats is the second in just three weeks as the Irish lost in Evanston on April 25, 17-7. In that contest the Irish gave up 12 first-half goals before settling down and limiting the potent Wildcat offense to just five goals in the second half, while scoring four themselves.
In a strange coincidence, Notre Dame (13-4) plays Northwestern (17-2) for the second time this year after the Wildcats lost to Florida, which are the only two losses for the team all year. Northwestern suffered its first loss of the season at home to the Gators, 8-7, on April 21, and then fell to them again last Saturday in the American Lacrosse Conference championship game in Gainesville, Fla., 14-7.
The Wildcats are led by ALC Player of the Year Taylor Thornton (27 G, 44 GB, 59 DC, 24 CT) and first team all-ALC performer Shannon Smith (60 G, 20 A) in the field and Brianne LoManto (7.26 GAA, 109 Saves) in the cage. Heading up the group is ALC Coach of the Year Kelly Amonte Hiller. Northwestern is looking for its second consecutive national championship and its seventh in eight years.
With a win over Northwestern, the Irish would advance to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fourth time in school history. The program advanced to their loan Final Four in 2006. To pick up the win, Notre Dame will have to reverse recent history against the Wildcats. After defeating Northwestern the first two times the two schools met in 2002 and 2003, the Irish haven't won since, including three first-round exits in Evanston.
The Irish received their seventh NCAA bid after putting together one of the best regular seasons in school history. Notre Dame was ranked consistently in the top-10 all year, and won 13 games, including five victories over ranked opponents, under first-year head coach Christine Halfpenny.
At last week's BIG EAST Tournament, five Irish players received recognition from the league. Senior Maggie Tamasitis (22 G, 57 A) and sophomore Margaret Smith (11 G, 35 GB, 47 DC, 29 CT) were each named first team all-BIG EAST, while sophomore Lindsay Powell (44 G, 23 DC), freshman Barbara Sullivan (37 G, 30 DC, 29 CT) and senior Megan Sullivan (24 G, 21 GB, 27 DC, 15 CT) were selected to the second team.