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Wilcox: Team has ability to best Wildcat dynasty (April 24)

Alex Wilcox | Wednesday, April 24, 2013


“Great moments are born from great opportunity.”

Legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks said this to his underdog United States team before taking on the Soviet Union squad in the 1980 Winter Olympics. 

As everyone knows, the U.S. defeated the vaunted Soviets in the “Miracle on Ice” and went on to win the gold medal. 

With the back-to-back national champion Northwestern Wildcats coming to town on Wednesday, the time is now for the No. 10 Irish to create their own “Miracle on Ice” moment.

No. 4 Northwestern boasts the preeminent women’s lacrosse program in the country. They are the Soviet Union of women’s lacrosse, winning national championships seven of the last eight years. In the  year the Wildcats didn’t win the championship, 2010, they nonetheless made the national championship game, losing to Maryland by two. To the Wildcats, anything less than another national title is a failure, and they have their sights set on a three-peat. 

All the more reason why a Notre Dame upset tonight would be even sweeter.

Brooks said to his team, “If we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight.”

The U.S. team proved their coach’s words true 23 years ago, and Wednesday seems to be the perfect set-up for a similar upset. In the past, Northwestern has owned Notre Dame. Last year, the Wildcats beat the Irish twice, including a victory in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to send Notre Dame home early and end coach Christine Halfpenny’s fantastic inaugural season.

This season seems to have set the Irish up for a stronger postseason showing. While last season’s 8-0 start was impressive, the Irish exceeded that mark when they came flying out of the gate this season, notching 10 straight wins.  During this winning streak, Notre Dame showed it can play any type of game. The Irish proved they could come back from halftime deficits, rallying back to win early season games against then-No. 18 Ohio State and Stanford. They demonstrated they could flat out  dominate games from the opening draw, which they did in a 22-1 thrashing of Detroit and a 14-2 beat down of Villanova. Perhaps most importantly, they showed they could steal games from the jaws of defeat: they survived a 12-11 scare against Vanderbilt, a 16-15 double overtime shootout against Louisville, and a 13-12 thriller with then-No. 8 Georgetown.

Lately, the squad has struggled, losing three of its last four after starting the season so well. As counterintuitive as it may seem, this rough patch the Irish have hit is exactly what will help them to focus before attempting to knock off a team like Northwestern. It’s an age-old saying that teams do best when their backs are back against the wall, and, with just two games remaining and still no conference tournament berth locked up, Notre Dame certainly has been backed into a corner. 

The Irish need to win. And they will. 

How confident am I? Confident enough that I would ask famed announcer Al Michaels to broadcast the game so he could deliver his famous “Do you believe in miracles?” line after Notre Dame knocks off the mighty Wildcats. 

Why am I so confident? It’s simple. Northwestern is beatable, as it is coming off a 22-4 loss to then-No. 3 Florida, and the Irish need a spark.

The opportunity is there, and as Brooks said, “This is your time! Now go out there and take it.”

Contact Alex Wilcox at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.