staff, staff, May 10, 2015

Northwestern turned a three-goal deficit into a five-goal victory in defeating Notre Dame, 16-11, on Sunday at Lakeside Field, 16-11.

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With the victory the Wildcats advance to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals where they will play rival Maryland at noon ET Sunday.

Before the Wildcats could punch their ticket to an 11th straight quarterfinal appearance, they needed to get through a defensive-minded and stingy Notre Dame squad. The Fighting Irish used that defense to cause a series of turnovers to go on a 3-0 run and take a 6-3 lead with 5:50 to go in the first half.

It was then that Amonte Hiller called a timeout and told her team that it was time to play fearlessly nowor they would wake up tomorrow and wish they had.

The Wildcats took the advice of the 14-year head coach, outscoring the Irish 13-5 the next 35 minutes to improve to 22-0 all time at home in the NCAA Tournament under Amonte Hiller.

Freshman Selena Lasota scored her first goal of the game with 4:04 to play to start the run and junior Christin Esposito scored her third goal of the NCAA Tournament just under two minutes later to cut the deficit to one, 6-5.

Junior Kaleigh Craig tied the game with 57 seconds remaining in the first half, 6-6, but Heidi Annaheim scored just 14 seconds later to give the Irish their final lead of the game. It was Craig again who tied it, matching her career high with her fourth goal in the first half alone with just five seconds left to send the two teams to the break tied, 7-7.

Freshman Corinne Wessels set the tone for the 'Cats in the second half, dishing out a pair of assists to give the 'Cats a lead they never relinquished. Wessels found sophomore Sheila Nesselbush just 1:56 into the second half and then made a perfect pass to a streaking Lasota 1:34 later to extend the lead to two, 9-7.

Lasota scored again less then two minutes later by beating three Irish defenders and firing a shot in the top left corner of the cage to give the Wildcats a three-goal advanctage, 10-7.

After a second goal by Annaheim at the 24:07 mark of the second half, Nesselbush scored again on a feed from Esposito and Lasota fired home one of her patented free-position shots to extend the lead to four goals, 12-8.

The Irish continued to attempt a comeback and scored with 17:41 remaining on a tally by Rachel Sexton, but Craig answered with her career-best fifth goal of the game and Nesselbush set a career high of her own with her fourth goal at the 10:06 mark to keep the lead at four, 14-10. Freshman Shelby Fredericks scored on a rebound in front of the cage with 7:12 left and Lasota put an exclamation point on the dominant offensive display with just 31 seconds left for the final 16-11 score.

Lasota finished with five goals on just six shots, moving into sole possesion of ninth place on the Northwestern single-season goals scored list with 67 on the year.

After 10 turnovers in the first 30 minutes, the Wildcats had just four turnovers in the second half to help pull away. The 'Cats also won the draw control battle, 17-12, and caused 11 turnovers in the game.

Junior Spring Sanders led the way defensively with three caused turnovers and three ground balls, while freshman Ally Mueller, junior Lauren Murray and freshman Linday Darrell eached caused a pair of turnovers. Fredericks had a team-high five draw controls

Mueller was also instrumental in limitingCourtney Fortunato, the Irish's leader in goals, assists and points, to just one assist and zero shots.

Next Saturday will mark the fifth meeting between the Wildcats and Terrapins in the last six years of NCAA Tournament action. The two teams have split their four meetings in the NCAA Tournament, including a pair of matchups in the national championship contest. The top-ranked Terps eliminated the 'Cats in the semifinals last season and also won their previous meeting earlier this season.