Selena Lasota hails from Campbell River, British Columbia, a town in Canada that averages 58.6 inches of rainfall a year.
So the Wildcats' star freshman looked right at home at a cold and soggy Lakeside Field on Sunday afternoon, leading the Wildcats past Notre Dame 16-11 and into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament.
Northwestern will face conference rival Maryland in College Park this Sunday.
Lasota scored five goals to help rally the ‘Cats past Notre Dame, who led 6-3 midway late in the first half. Kaleigh Craig also scored five, Sheila Nesselbush scored 4 and Shelby Fredericks and Christina Esposito each chipped 1 as Northwestern punched its ticket to the NCAA quarterfinals.
“I’m very excited to advance on to the next round,” head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “They played really fearless and did a great job.”
Notre Dame got off to a hot start, carving up the NU defense and taking advantage of three free position shots to jump out to an early lead. But as the conditions worsened, the game began to turn in Northwestern’s favor.
Weather was the story of this part of the NCAA tournament bracket, as Northwestern’s first round game against Louisville was delayed almost three hours by lighting on Friday night. On Sunday, overcast skies and foggy conditions provided less than ideal weather for a postseason lacrosse game. Occasional mist throughout the first half gave way to rain during halftime as both teams were forced to adapt to the unfavorable conditions.
But that might've been just why Northwestern was able to secure the win.
After the Fighting Irish jumped out to a 6-3 lead with 5 minutes left in the first half, Lasota got the Wildcats back in the game with her first tally of the game. Dealing with constant face guarding throughout the game, Lasota overcame a slow start to power the ‘Cats on offense. Her goal with about five minutes left in the first half opened the floodgates for NU, as the ‘Cats were able to tie things up at 7-7 before the halftime whistle. It would be all Wildcats from there.
Lasota said her ability to adapt to the face guarding allowed her to get involved offensively.
“I trust the coaches,” she said. “The information that they give me to kind of beat the face-guard is great, [so] I use what they say.”
In the second half, Northwestern simply overwhelmed Notre Dame, outscoring the Fighting Irish 9-4 down the stretch. Turnovers and draw controls helped turned the tide for Northwestern, as the ‘Cats gave it away just four times in the second half. NU also won the draw control 17-12 throughout the match.
With the win, Northwestern moves to an incredible 22-0 in playoff matches held at Lakeside Field. This is the Wildcats' last game of the season at their home venue and the final game held at Lakeside before NU makes massive renovations to the facility over the offseason.
Maryland blew out Northwestern 16-5 in their only matchup this season, but the ‘Cats have hope heading into an Elite Eight rematch with their conference rivals.
“We don’t want to wake up tomorrow and think about not having put it all out there,” Amonte Hiller said. “I think that’s what the girls did. They just went out there and went after it.”