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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: Northwestern 3, Louisville 2

Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer
Senior midfielder Lauren Wadas dribbles the ball. Wadas scored the game-winning goal Sunday as Northwestern knocked off Louisville 3-2 in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

With a slight breeze descending upon Lakeside Field on an uncharacteristically warm November afternoon, Northwestern took on Louisville in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament quarterfinal.

When the two teams last met in late August, the visitors handed coach Tracey Fuchs’ squad its lone loss in a 1-0 result against the run of play. Now, two and a half months later, the Wildcats and Cardinals clashed once again, looking to punch their ticket to the national semifinals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Louisville drew the game’s opening penalty corner just over six minutes into the opening quarter, but senior goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz dove right to deny the opportunity. 

While Cardinal midfielder Minna Tremonti put her team in front on a penalty corner conversion, freshman back Ilse Tromp provided a quickfire response to level the score at 1-1. Neither side managed to break the tie in the second quarter, as the teams entered the halftime break knotted at one goal apiece.

Though NU held possession in the attacking third for much of the third quarter, Louisville goalkeeper Merlijn van der Vegt denied a sure-fire shot from Tromp that soared toward the top right corner. 

Late in the third quarter, Louisville forward Tyler Everslage beat Skubisz and the buzzer on her team’s first second-half shot to take a 2-1 lead into the final frame. Tromp once again provided a swift answer, notching her second goal of the afternoon to equalize the contest.

With 73 seconds remaining, graduate student midfielder Alia Marshall lined up for her second consecutive penalty corner. Senior midfielder Lauren Wadas was there to make the play — as she’s consistently done all season — firing home the game winner.

Here are three takeaways from NU’s win over Louisville Sunday:

1. Cardinals push the tempo at early stages

Although Louisville didn’t record a shot on goal until the second half in the teams’ last encounter, the Cardinals wasted little time going on the attack offensively. 

The ‘Cats typically dictate the tempo from the opening pushback, but the visitors didn’t shy away from the matchup’s favorites. Capitalizing off Tremonti’s speed, Louisville managed to test Skubisz early — a feat most squads have seldom reached this season.

The team’s audacious attacking play paved the way for an early 1-0 lead, which marked NU’s first deficit since its penultimate regular season bout at Rutgers. Even after the Cardinals conceded Tromp’s equalizer, the visitors maintained their offensive momentum, setting up wire-to-wire first-half action.

2. Skubisz’s heroics keep the ‘Cats afloat

Throughout the season, Fuchs has consistently hailed her goalkeeper as the nation’s premier shotstopper. Skubisz’ defense has typically weathered most attacking storms, limiting opposing shots to the low single digits. 

Two days ago, Fuchs said Skubisz made the save of the season against Miami (Ohio) to keep the underdogs’ upset door firmly shut. The coach once again leaned on her veteran goalie to put on a clinic in front of the cage Sunday.

Sunday proved a different monster for the senior goalkeeper, who was called into action early in the first frame. Although she couldn’t add on to her program-record 13 single season shutouts, Skubisz’s four first half saves proved pivotal for the ‘Cats, who merely managed just two shots on goal through 30 minutes of play.

3. ‘Cats push onward to third consecutive semifinal

Entering the fourth quarter down 2-1, NU faced its toughest postseason test thus far. It’d been nearly a year since the ‘Cats last trailed in an NCAA Tournament game — a last-minute 2-1 NCAA Championship loss to North Carolina.

After Tromp grabbed an early leveler to add even more parity to Sunday’s neck-and-neck battle, both teams made advances into opposing territory in the ensuing minutes.

But, it was NU that delivered the knockout blow, booking a trip to Friday’s semifinal. With No. 3 Duke waiting in the wings, the upcoming matchup promises to be another dogfight.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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