Nov. 1, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 12 Northwestern earned a share of the Big Ten conference title Friday as it rolled to a convincing 5-0 Senior Day victory over Ohio State at Lakeside Field.
The Wildcats laid claim to a piece of the crown when Michigan knocked off previously undefeated Penn State 2-1 in overtime in Ann Arbor. Both NU and the Nittany Lions finished league play with a 5-1 record. PSU will the be the top seed at next week's Big Ten tournament in Columbus, Ohio, based upon its head-to-head victory over the 'Cats.
Northwestern is the tournament's No. 2 seed and will face Ohio State once again at 11:15 a.m. Central time Thursday.
The title is the first for the Wildcats since winning it outright during the 1994 season.
"I'm really pleased, not just for the seniors but for the whole team in general," Northwestern head coach Tracey Fuchs said. "We've worked really, really hard for this and to win a share of the Big Ten title is a great thing."
It took both teams a while to get going as neither squad recorded a shot until just the midway point of the opening half. It was then that the Wildcats earned a penalty corner and senior Tara Puffenberger tallied her first goal as she deflected in a pass from Dominique Masters at 15:38, giving Northwestern a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"It was a big day, our seniors' last day on the field, and they came out just a little tentative. It didn't take long and once we got into our rhythm, I thought we controlled most of the match," said Fuchs.
The advantage grew to two goals in the 24th minute of action as the Wildcats had a counter attack following an Ohio State penalty corner and Kelley Stump fed a perfect cross to Lena Phillips who was all alone at the back post for her first goal of the season.
NU would carry the two-goal advantage into halftime as it held a 5-2 edge in shots and a 3-1 advantage in corners.
The 'Cats took advantage of another corner opportunity seven minutes into the second half as Nikki Parsley beat OSU goalkeeper Sarah Lemieux low to her right and just inside the post for Parsley's team-leading 13th goal of the season.
In all, seniors accounted for four of Northwestern's five goals in the contest. Puffenberger added her second of the day at 45:54, taking a feed from Ashley Bernardi and knocking a reverse stick shot past Lemieux, making it 4-0.
Lemieux was relieved in favor of Sydney Stype and the Wildcats tallied one final goal at 54:32 as Kristin Wirtz scored off a rebound to finish off the scoring.
Maddy Carpenter made four saves to earn her seventh shutout of the season as NU finished with advantages of 12-9 in shots while OSU had a 5-4 edge in corners.
Following the victory, the Wildcats were forced to wait out the result in Ann Arbor and Northwestern was finally able to celebrate a little over an hour later once Michigan scored the sudden-victory goal in overtime to defeat Penn State.
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