Cats drown No. 6 Irish

Courtney McCarty

The rain may have been pouring down, but the real storm was on the field Tuesday as the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team scored six second-half goals en route to a 9-5 upset of No. 6 Notre Dame.

The fans that filled the stands at Lakeside Field counted down the final 10 seconds of the match, and the No. 11 Wildcats celebrated the victory by sliding flat across the sopping field.

With the downpour Tuesday, the Cats brought their scrappy and aggressive game against the Fighting Irish (10-2).

“(The rain) makes me feel like a warrior,” senior Courtney Koester said. “It really gets me going, and it gives you a little extra fire, you know.”

After a close first period that ended with the Cats leading 3-2, NU (11-1, 3-0 in the American Lacrosse Conference) broke away from the Irish, who were ranked No. 2 in the nation last week.

The Cats scored four unanswered goals and shut down the Notre Dame attack.

The Cats also dominated draws, kept possession in their offensive zone and had most of the fouls called in their favor.

“In the second half, we really pressured them,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “There was no way they were going to be able to cover us.”

Tuesday’s game gave the Cats their 10th straight victory, and NU matched the school record of 11 wins in a season, which was set in 1983.

Goaltender Ashley Gersuk allowed the Cats to take the lead by blanking Notre Dame in the first 17 minutes of the second half.

The junior netminder made nine saves in the contest, and received a little help from the post on several occasions.

Gersuk, who is second in the ALC in save percentage and goals against average, has held opponents to six goals or fewer in seven games this year.

“Everyone in front of me played so well that my job wasn’t really that difficult,” Gersuk said.

The NU defense let up at the end of the game, allowing the Fighting Irish to score three late goals including two in the final minute.

But the Cats’ defense, led by seniors Ashley and Courtney Koester, kept the ball out of the Notre Dame offensive zone for most of the game.

“I think the Koesters were out of hand,” Amonte Hiller said. “They were everywhere.

“It looked like there were about 10 of them instead of two.”

The attack was led by Kristen Kjellman, the team’s leading scorer, who tallied three goals on the afternoon. Sarah Albrecht and Jenny Bush each scored twice, and Laura Glassanos and Aly Josephs also got on the board.

The messy weather bogged down the scoring, and it was 14 minutes into the game before the Fighting Irish got on the board. Albrecht and Bush then scored, putting the Cats ahead before Notre Dame answered back and made the score 2-2.

With fewer than four minutes left in the half, Kjellman put the Cats back ahead — this time for good.

The freshman then sparked the Cats’ second-half scoring tear with a goal in the first 15 seconds of the half. After the Cats offensive outburst, Notre Dame beat Gersuk three times in the last four minutes.

The Cats said they were excited to beat the Fighting Irish, whose close proximity makes them an NU rival.

“We came into this game thinking we were going to win,” said Gersuk. “That’s a key to any game, and we did it here today.”