Coming into Sunday ranked fourth in the nation, it didn’t seem like Northwestern lacrosse had much to worry about with No. 11 Virginia. After a slow first half, the 'Cats rallied to beat the Cavs by a score of 11-6 in Charlottesville.
Northwestern allowed three quick goals to start the game, but the Wildcats’ scoring drought was ended by junior midfielder Alyssa Leonard at 21:57. Once the 'Cats got started, they never let up.
Goals by senior midfielder Taylor Thornton and junior Kelly Rich put Northwestern down by just one goal going into the locker room at halftime. Sophomore goalie Bridget Bianco had two saves in the first half, preventing the Wildcats from having to dig out of an even bigger hole.
From the beginning of the second half, Northwestern showed no signs of slowing down its progress from the first half: Virginia would only score two more times before the day was over. Fitzgerald netted another goal off a pass from Rich to tie the game 4-4.
Virginia scored again in the following minute to put the Cavaliers back in the lead. But a goal from senior midfielder Amanda Macaluso spurred a 5-0 run for the Wildcats, with Fitzgerald scoring two more goals to record her third consecutive hat trick of the season. Thornton and senior midfielder Gabriella Flibotte also added to the total.
The 'Cats’ streak was snapped by Virginia’s Courtney Swan, her second goal of the game, making the score 9-6, with Northwestern in the lead. To ensure a convincing win, Macaluso and senior attacker Beatrice Conley, assisted by Fitzgerald, both scored, putting the Wildcats on top as things closed out.
Sunday's win bumped Northwestern up to third in the country behind No. 1 Maryland and No. 2 North Carolina. The Wildcats will battle No. 5 Duke at home on Friday at 7 p.m.