It wasn't easy, but the ninth-ranked Northwestern Wildcats (12-5, 3-2 B1G) were able to hold off the upset and hungry Michigan Wolverines team (5-12, 0-5 B1G) by a score of 13-9 in the first round of the B1G Tournament in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Thursday afternoon.
The win propels the third-seeded 'Cats into a conference semifinal matchup with second-seeded Penn State, who beat NU, 14-10, for the first time since 2003 in their last meeting at Lakeside Field on April 19.
Looking to get revenge for the 17-8 beatdown the 'Cats administered on April 2 in the Big House, the Michigan Wolverines came out firing, answering a 2-0 NU start with a 3-0 run to give them a lead with 20 minutes left in the first half. Freshman Selena Lasota and senior Blake McHugh quickly helped NU regain the lead, but UM refused to yield, tying things at four with 9:31 minutes left in the first half.
Then the 'Cats flexed their claws. Northwestern scored the final two goals of the first half, and senior Kaleigh Craig opened the second half with a hat trick over the span of just four minutes to give NU a 9-5 lead they would not relinquish. Michigan threatened a few more times over the remaining 24 minutes, but Northwestern answered every time – despite a 10 minute scoring drought at one point – and held on for the 13-9 win.
Senior Kara Mupo also got a hat trick of her own, freshman Corinne Wessels dished out two assists and all three were among the eight Wildcats who scored NU's 13 goals.
NU's semifinal game against Penn State is scheduled for 4:30 central tomorrow and will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network.