April 24, 2012
No. 1 Northwestern (14-1, 4-1 ALC) vs. No. 6 Notre Dame (12-2, 5-2 BIG EAST)
Wednesday, April 25 7 p.m. CT
Lakeside Field Evanston, Ill.
Live Stream: Big Ten Digital Network
Live Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Live Stats: Gametracker
Radio: WNUR 89.3 FM
Buy NU Lacrosse Tickets Online! | 2012 Promotional Calendar
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern, which has gone wire to wire in the regular season as the nation's No. 1-ranked team, looks to finish strong when it hosts two more NCAA Tournament-caliber opponents at Lakeside Field this week. On Wednesday evening (7 p.m.), the Wildcats square off with regional rival and sixth-ranked Notre Dame, before taking on No. 9 Virginia Saturday in the regular-season finale.
Wednesday night is the Chipotle BIG Game for Northwestern students, with the first 50 students in attendance receiving a coupon for a Buy One, Get One Free Chipotle burrito. Parking is free for all Northwestern lacrosse games and tickets may be purchased at the gates ($7 adult, $4 youth, $3 groups of 15 or more; NU students receive free admission with a valid WildCard).
Scouting the Fighting Irish:
2012: 12-2, 5-2 BIG EAST, 5-1 away
Last Three Games: W at Georgetown (7-6, 2OT); W vs. Vanderbilt (12-11); W at UConn (16-9)
Head Coach: Christine Halfpenny (Virginia Tech '99); 12-2 at Notre Dame (first season)
Key Players: Maggie Tamasitis (Sr., A): 19 goals, 50 assists, 13 GB's; Lindsay Powell (So., M): 38 goals, 18 draw controls; Margaret Smith (So., M): 42 draw controls, 30 ground balls, 25 caused turnovers
In Goal: Ellie Hilling (Jr.): 10.6 GAA, 122 saves, .473 save percentage
Under the direction of first-year head coach Christine Halfpenny, Notre Dame began this season 8-0, joining Northwestern as the last two undefeated teams in the country. The Irish have responded to back-to-back conference losses to Loyola and Syracuse by winning their last four games, most recently a 7-6 double-overtime thriller over Georgetown. Notre Dame received a career-best 16 saves by goalie Ellie Hilling as well as the game-winning tally by sophomore Lindsay Powell. Maggie Tamasitis ranks second nationally in total assists (50) while on the other end, ND has been averaging more than nine caused turnovers per game, good for ninth in the country.
Northwestern and Notre Dame last met in the 2011 season-opener in South Bend, when the Wildcats came away with a 14-11 victory. That represented NU's 11th consecutive win against the Irish, with Notre Dame's last victory over the 'Cats coming on April 26, 2003 in South Bend. The two teams have met three times in the NCAA Tournament, including Northwestern's first-ever tournament victory under Kelly Amonte Hiller, a 10-8 Wildcats win on May 13, 2004.
Wildcats Remain Atop IWLCA Rankings
Northwestern's narrow 8-7 loss to fifth-ranked Florida Saturday was not enough to remove NU from the No. 1 spot in the IWLCA rankings, where the Wildcats have sat all season. By the time Northwestern faces Notre Dame and Virginia this week, NU will have played eight of the nine teams currently ranked directly below it in the national poll, with No. 5 Maryland as the lone exception. Those eight teams boast a combined record of 93-29 this season. All six American Lacrosse Conference teams are in the top 20, with Northwestern, Florida (No. 4) and Penn State (No. 8) representing the league in the top 10.
Last Time Out
A much-anticipated matchup between top-5 opponents and conference rivals did not disappoint in terms of excitement but No. 1 Northwestern fell to No. 5 Florida, 8-7, before a crowd of 1,578 fans at Lakeside Field on Saturday. Trailing by three goals at halftime, the Wildcats seized a 7-6 lead with 20 minutes remaining but were kept in check down the stretch in falling from its post as the last unbeaten team in Division I women's lacrosse. Erin Fitzgerald led the 'Cats with two goals and an assist while Gabriella Flibotte set a career high with five draw controls to go along with three ground balls and a goal.
Wildcat 'D' Among Nation's Best
Northwestern's defense has ranked among the stingiest in the country all season, currently standing third with a scoring defense average of 7.13 per game. Senior goalkeeper Brianne LoManto continues to lead all netminders in goals against average at 6.92 and on Saturday became the fourth NU goalie to reach 400 saves for her career. LoManto, who owns a 55-5 career record as Northwestern's starting goalie, has lowered her career goals against average to 8.16.
Draw Control Duo
Northwestern's tandem on the circle of sophomore Alyssa Leonard and junior Taylor Thornton have carried the load on draw controls this season. Leonard (58) and Thornton (53) rank as one of two teammate pairings in the country to corral more than 50 draw controls thus far in 2012. Only Navy's duo of Lauren Generi (99) and Kathy Young (64) can match the production on the circle by by Leonard and Thornton, each of whom have single-game highs of nine draw controls this season and now rank in the top 10 all-time at Northwestern.
On Saturday, the Wildcats bring to a close what has been an exciting five-game homestand as well as the 2012 regular season when they take the field against the 11th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Northwestern will celebrate Senior Day before the game, honoring six seniors who have been a part of 78 wins in their career compared to just five losses and helping the 'Cats to the 2009 and 2011 NCAA championships. This tremendous class consists of: midfielder Alex Frank, goalkeeper Brianne LoManto, midfielder Jessica Russo, attacker Shannon Smith and defenders Maria Tedeschi and Lacey Vigmostad. Be sure to arrive early for the celebration and stay late for a postgame autograph session with the Wildcats (weather permitting).
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