Northwestern lacrosse begins NCAA title defense vs. Irish

Northwestern women’s lacrosse head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller will lead her team into its ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament this week, with her second-seeded Wildcats (17-2) hosting rival Notre Dame in a first-round matchup.

The ‘Cats and Fighting Irish (13-4) will square off at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lakeside Field as defending champion Northwestern begins its quest to win its seventh national title in the last eight years.

Should Northwestern advance to the tournament’s quarterfinals, it would host a second-round contest against either seventh-seeded Duke or another ACC foe, Virginia, for the right to head to the national semifinals at Stony Brook University on Long Island (May 25-27).

Northwestern enters the NCAA Championship with a 17-2 record and 13 victories against opponents ranked in the top 20, including seven against the top 10. The Wildcats held the No. 1 spot in the IWLCA and deBeer Media polls every week of the regular season.

This marks the fourth time that Northwestern and Notre Dame have been matched up in NCAA Tournament play with the Wildcats having won on all three prior occasions, most recently a 19-7 opening-round victory for NU on May 15, 2010. During their 2012 regular-season meeting, Northwestern cruised to a 17-7 victory in a game the ‘Cats led by a 12-3 margin at halftime, thanks in large part to Erin Fitzgerald’s five first-half points.

Here is a link to the complete NCAA tournament bracket:

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