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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish drop first game of homestand to No. 5 Northwestern

| Friday, February 25, 2022

After a back-and-forth battle, the No. 17 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team lost tragically to No. 5 Northwestern 16-17. While the Wildcats came out of the gate hot, the Irish were able to close the gap but ultimately failed to take the lead. 

Although the Wildcats dominated the first quarter, sophomore midfielder Kelly Denes and graduate student attack Maddie Howe found the back of the net quickly. However, they were the only Irish goals of the quarter. Starting at the seven-minute mark, the Wildcats scored five points — all unassisted — pushing their lead to 5-2 into the second quarter. 

However, the Irish were not ready to surrender. For the second period in a row, Denes hit off the scoring, assisted by sophomore attack Madison Ahern. The Wildcats hit back hard, scoring three quick goals within three minutes. This was followed by an unassisted Irish goal by junior attack Cailin Field, before an answer from Wildcat Samantha Smith.  

The Irish deficit was widening, but sophomore midfielder Mary Kelly Doherty scored, unassisted. This appeared to light a spark in the Irish attack, and junior midfielder Kasey Choma scored assisted by junior attack Jackie Wolak, before Wolak herself scored within the last minute.  Although the Irish outscored the Wildcats in the second quarter, they were still trailing Northwestern 9-7 going into the half. 

Yet again, the Irish kicked off the quarter, this time with a goal scored by Choma assisted by Ahern. However, the momentum would not last and Wildcat Lauren Gilbert would score back-to-back unassisted, widening Northwestern’s lead. Scoring would go back and forth for the remainder of the quarter, with Choma answering for the Irish before yet another Gilbert goal. The Irish attempted to close the gap to two with a goal from Howe. However, within the last two minutes Gilbert scored again and her teammate Carleigh Mahoney found the back of the net. Irish senior midfielder closed the gap to 14-11 moving into the final quarter. 

The fourth quarter was the final chance for the Irish to regain their lead. Yet, it was the one and only quarter they allowed the Wildcats to have the initial goal. Another Northwestern goal reignited the Irish attack. Trailing by five, with only eight minutes left, Choma took initiative and scored on a free position shot to tighten the lead. This was followed by two unassisted goals by Wolak and then another by Denes. With less than three minutes remaining in the game — and only one point behind — the Irish needed to dig in to take the lead. However, a Wildcat goal halted the Irish run. And with 17 seconds left, Howe found the back of the net to tighten the final score to 17-16. 

Although the Irish could not surpass the Wildcats, they put up a fight. Almost completely across the board, the Irish and the Wildcats had similar stats: Northwestern only had two more shots than Notre Dame and recorded two more turnovers. Yet sometimes there is a singular player who overtakes any stats – in this case it was Lauren Gilbert. With seven goals, she scored close to half of Northwestern goals.

After a loss to Vanderbilt, a close loss to Northwestern does not sting as bad. However, once ranked higher than the Wildcats, the Irish appear to be slipping game after game. With the first of three home games over, the Irish need to win their next two to regain their status among the college lacrosse elite. 

The Irish are back in action Saturday playing No. 3 Syracuse in Arlotta Stadium at 6 p.m ET.


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