Jan. 26, 2013
2013 Champion Challenge hosted by U.S. Lacrosse
Site: Orlando, Fla. (ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex)
Score: Northwestern 11, Team England 10 (OT)
Records: N/A (exhibition)
Next NU Event: Sunday, Jan. 27 vs. Team USA 10 a.m. CT Live Streaming Video
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Northwestern's first competition of the 2013 season had the feel of something more than a January exhibition outing, with the Wildcats grinding out an 11-10 overtime win vs. Team England at the U.S. Lacrosse Champion Challenge Saturday in Orlando.
|NU vs. England Postgame Reaction|
A game that was tied at five at halftime remained physical and competitive throughout, with Northwestern sending the game to overtime with a tremendous game-tying Taylor Thornton
goal with 1:16 left in regulation. In the second period of OT, senior Erin Fitzgerald
took a feed from junior Kara Mupo
and slotted it home to secure an exciting exhibition win for NU.
"After regulation we decided we had been standing too much on offense so we started moving a lot, the cuts by my teammates were there and I just happened to be open," Fitzgerald said of her game-winner. "This was our first game and it's awesome to have a really tough game the first time out, it was really exciting to get out and play."
Fitzgerald and Thornton were two of four Wildcats to score twice in the game, joining junior Alyssa Leonard and senior Amanda Macaluso in leading the NU attack. Leonard's nine draw controls paced Northwestern as the Wildcats controlled possession by winning 19 of 25 draws on the day.
"England did a great job on defense, we were kind of working the first-game jitters out and trying to get a sense of each other in a real game setting but it was nice to be competing against a new opponent," said Leonard.
Northwestern especially dominated the possession early on, with Team England needing nearly 10 minutes to establish its first offensive trip into the Wildcats' attacking zone. The 'Cats struck on their first opportunity of the afternoon when Orlando native Christy Turner opened NU's scoring account exactly one minute into the game off a dodge down the left side of the fan.
Leonard made it 2-0 at the 24:40 mark when she wrapped the crease and bounced her shot home for the goal. After England scored on its first trip down the field, Northwestern answered when Fitzgerald found the back of the net off a feed from fellow senior Gabriella Flibotte.
A second England tally was countered with an aggressive right-to-left dodge by Macaluso, who absorbed a hit and scored on the ensuing 8-meter attempt to set NU's lead at 4-2.
England continued to hang tough, notching the game's next three goals to gain a 5-4 lead. NU managed to pull level at halftime thanks to a superb individual effort by Thornton, who became Northwestern's fifth goal-scorer of the opening 30 minutes.
Northwestern came out of halftime with renewed energy, getting a goal by senior Ali Cassera less than 30 seconds into the second stanza before sophomore goalkeeper Bridget Bianco made a big save on an England 8-meter attempt. Another sophomore, Jess Carroll, soon provided NU a two-goal advantage with a swift dodge do her right hand.
England pulled one back off a well-executed fast break and scored shortly thereafter to even things up at seven with just over 21 minutes remaining in the contest. After the ensuing draw, the veteran Macaluso took it on herself to dodge hard to the cage and score her second of the day to restore a one-goal lead.
It remained a back-and-forth affair as Leonard finished off a feed from Kat DeRonda, only to see England rally to gain a 10-9 advantage with under 10 minutes to go.
That remained the score late into the game until Thornton answered the call with a hard drive from the goal line extended, taking a hit while scoring with 1:16 left. A would-be go-ahead Northwestern goal was then taken off the board with 45 seconds to play following an illegal stick check, sending the exhibition contest to OT.
Both defenses held firm in the first three minutes of overtime before Fitzgerald found the game-winner with 1:05 remaining.
Northwestern now prepares to face arguably the top lacrosse squad in the world when it takes on Team USA at 10 a.m. CT Sunday in Orlando. Live streaming video is available online at WatchESPN with television replays scheduled for 11 p.m. CT Sunday and 2:30 p.m. CT Monday on ESPNU.
Northwestern vs. Team England -- NU Point-Scorers
Alyssa Leonard -- 2 goals
Amanda Macaluso -- 2 goals
Erin Fitzgerald -- 2 goals
Taylor Thornton -- 2 goals
Christy Turner -- 1 goal
Ali Cassera -- 1 goal
Jess Carroll -- 1 goal
Gabriella Flibotte -- 1 assist
Kat DeRonda -- 1 assist
Kara Mupo -- 1 assist
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