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    Last-Second Saves Allow Wildcats to Edge Spartans, 2-1

    Julia Retzky's defensive save as time expired allowed Northwestern to hold on to win and earn the right to play for a Big Ten title.

    Julia Retzky's defensive save as time expired allowed Northwestern to hold on to win and earn the right to play for a Big Ten title.

    Oct. 19, 2012

    Box Score

    Watch Game Highlights on Wildcats All Access!

    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Leonard B. Thomas Athletic Complex)
    Score: #8 Northwestern 2, #20 Michigan State 1
    Records: NU (15-2, 4-1 Big Ten), Michigan State (9-8, 2-3 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Sunday, Oct. 21 -- vs. Missouri State (Thomas Athletic Complex), 12:30 p.m.

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Goaltender Maddy Carpenter made two saves in the final 10 seconds of regulation and Julia Retzky made a defensive save as time expired as No. 8 Northwestern held on for dear life to defeat No. 20 Michigan State 2-1 Friday afternoon.

    With the victory, the Wildcats have earned the right to play for at least a share of the Big Ten title at Iowa on Sunday, Oct. 28.

    Trailing by a goal with 3:10 left, the Spartans pulled goalie Molly Cassidy for an extra attacker. Michigan State earned a penalty corner with a minute remaining, but Nikki Parsley charged out to block a shot by Alli Helwig and then did it again on a Becky Stiles shot with just over 30 seconds left following another penalty corner.

    Watch Game Highlights

    The Spartans earned a third-consecutive corner in the closing seconds, but Carpenter went to her right to save a shot by Helwig. The rebound went to Michelle Graham, but Carpenter made another stop. Another rebound found the stick of MSU leading scorer Abby Barker with the final seconds ticking away, but Retzky was in the right place at the right time, making a game-saving stop as time expired to give the 'Cats the win.

    "We knew that it was going to be a 70-minute game and it went down to the very last second," Northwestern head coach Tracey Fuchs said. "Our corner defense has been great all year and Nikki is one of the best fliers in the country and Maddy came up big. To have a defensive save with no time on the clock is a testament to how far we've come. I'm very proud of our team today."

    There was little offense for either side in the opening half of play, but Northwestern cashed in to score the first goal of the match at 24:13 when Maria Kovalchuk fed a pass to Lena Phillips who tapped a shot home past Cassidy to put the hosts in front.

    NU would carry the 1-0 advantage into the break as the Wildcats out-shot the Spartans 6-4 over the opening 35 minutes of play.

    Northwestern gave itself some breathing room just 94 seconds into the second half when Chelsea Armstrong scored her nation-leading 26th goal of the year off a penalty corner to push the advantage to 2-0. Retzky and Lisa McCarthy assisted on the play.

    The Wildcats had a great opportunity to put the game away with under 20 minutes left as they earned five-consecutive penalty corners, but Michigan State was able to come up with a stop each time.

    The Spartans finally got on the board with just under 10 minutes remaining when Allie Ahern forced a turnover deep in the NU defensive end and scored her fifth goal of the year to cut the visitors' deficit to one.

    MSU created the three penalty corner chances in the final minute, including the frenetic flurry at the end, but the Northwestern defense was up to the task.

    The Wildcats finished with an advantage of 17-13 in shots while each team earned nine penalty corners. Carpenter, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, made five saves to earn the victory.

    Northwestern will close out its 2012 home season on Sunday as it takes on Missouri State on Senior Day. NU will honor its five seniors in pregame ceremonies prior to the 12:30 p.m. match.

    The Wildcats then have the opportunity to play for their first Big Ten since 1994 seven days later.

    "It's so exciting for Chelsea, Kaylee (Pohlmeyer), Amanda (Wirth), Shannon (Disbrow) and Colleen (Petronchak)," said Fuchs. "They were here from the beginning with me. It's really nice that now they have the opportunity to play for a Big Ten title. Year by year, they've built this program back to where it was in the 1990s. It's going to be a great day in Iowa next Sunday."


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