Feb. 25, 2011
No. 2 Northwestern 7, No. 3 North Carolina 6 (OT)
Site: Fetzer Field * Chapel Hill, N.C.
Records: Northwestern (2-0, 0-0 ALC); North Carolina (3-1, 0-0 ACC)
Up Next: at No. 11 Vanderbilt * Sunday, February 27 * Noon
Northwestern at North Carolina Box Score
2011 Northwestern Lacrosse Statistics
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Sophomore Taylor Thornton (Dallas, Texas/Hockaday School) fired a shot into the back of the net with 15 seconds remaining in overtime as second-ranked Northwestern rallied to take down third-ranked North Carolina 7-6 at Fetzer Field. Junior Shannon Smith (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) led all scorers with four goals on the night, including a pair in the second half to spark the Wildcat rally.
"We knew coming in what a crucial game this was, and we emphasized how important every goal in this game would be," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "I thought our team did a great job at playing together as a team and not getting too down on themselves when they fell behind. To come in and beat such a great team like North Carolina on its home field is big for this team."
Smith's four goals were complemented by one each from juniors Alex Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) and Lacey Vigmostad (Northport, N.Y./Northport) and the overtime game-winner from Thornton, who left the game early in the second half after colliding hard with a North Carolina player in front of the Wildcat net and had to be helped off the field.
The last time these two teams met in the regular season, it was an offensive showcase at Lakeside Field, won by North Carolina 18-16 after the game was tied 12-12 at halftime. This time, however, was a much different story. Frank netted the first goal of the game at the 22:06 mark, scooping up a rebound from Matthews and finding the back of the net to give Northwestern the early 1-0 lead.
The teams then went nearly 12 minutes without a goal until Smith fired a rocket into the back of the net, giving Northwestern the 2-0 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. A pair of goals by the Tar Heels in the span of two minutes tied the game at two before Smith's second of the game put the Wildcats back on top 3-2 with 3:25 to play in the half.
North Carolina responded with a goal of its own, knotting the game at three with just over two minutes to play in the half. The Wildcats then staved off a late Tar Heel charge, thanks to a pair of key saves from LoManto as the game went into the half tied at 3-3, marking the third-straight game in the series that was tied at the end of the opening stanza.
The Tar Heels responded first in the second half, notching a pair of goals within the opening 12 minutes to take its first lead of the game at 5-3. But Smith then took charge for Northwestern, notching her third of the game with 16:57 remaining, then converting a free position goal less than two minutes later to pull Northwestern even at 5-5.
North Carolina reclaimed the lead at 6-5 with just under six minutes remaining before Vigmostad converted a free position attempt for her first goal of the season, tying the game at 6-6 with 3:08 to go in regulation. Frank won the ensuing draw and Northwestern held for the last shot, but Frank's potential game-winner with six seconds remaining went straight into the UNC goalkeeper's stick, sending the game into overtime.
North Carolina controlled possession for the entire first overtime period and had a couple of looks, but were unable to convert. Northwestern then won the draw to start the second overtime period and maintained possession throughout. With time winding down, Thornton made her mad dash to the goal, getting a pass from sophomore Erin Fitzgerald (Mt. Sinai, N.Y./Mt. Sinai) and eluding a pair of defenders before firing home the game-winner. UNC won the ensuing draw, but was unable to get itself set up for a scoring opportunity as the clock hit triple zeroes.
Statistically, the game was close across the board as Northwestern held a slim advantage in draw controls (8-6) and ground balls (27-23). Frank was critical to the Wildcats on the draw, winning four on the night, while adding five ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers. Sophomore Ali Cassera (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex) scooped a career-best six ground balls and also caused three Tar Heel turnovers, as did Thornton.
Defensively, Northwestern held North Carolina's Corey Donohoe, the Tar Heels' leading scorer, to no goals on just two shots on the day. Junior goalkeeper Brianne LoManto (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point) had another solid outing between the pipes, recording eight saves, including a pair in the waning minutes to keep North Carolina off the board at the end of regulation.
Northwestern improves to 8-2 all-time against North Carolina and 3-1 in Chapel Hill. This was the fifth time the teams had met in the past three seasons, with the Wildcats holding a 4-1 lead since the start of the 2009 season.
The Wildcats will have little time to savor the victory, however, as they now head west to Nashville, Tenn., for their American Lacrosse Conference opener against 11th-ranked Vanderbilt. Opening draw against the Commodores is set for noon on Sunday, February 27.