March 9, 2013
Score: No. 4 Northwestern 18, No. 12 Johns Hopkins 8
Site: Baltimore, Md. (Homewood Field)
Records: Northwestern (5-1, 2-0 ALC), Johns Hopkins (4-1, 0-1 ALC)
Next NU Event: Monday, March 11 at Navy Annapolis, Md. 3 p.m. CT (TV: CBS Sports Network)
BALTIMORE, Md. -- Playing on the same field where it will vie for an ALC championship come May, No. 4 Northwestern put together a complete team effort to defeat No. 12 Johns Hopkins, 18-8, Saturday at Homewood Field in Baltimore. Senior Erin Fitzgerald posted her second straight five-goal effort, while the NU defense held the Jays' attack to just five goals through 57 minutes of play.
A 4-3 game in the first half was blown open thanks to a 7-0 Northwestern run and a stretch of more than 23 scoreless minutes for the Blue Jays.
Sophomore goalkeeper Bridget Bianco anchored that strong Northwestern defensive effort, recording seven saves in the first half on her way to her third straight nine-save performance. In front of Bianco, junior Kerri Harrington effectively faceguarded dynamic JHU goal-scorer Taylor D'Amore all afternoon, keeping D'Amore without a point over the first 40 minutes of game action and only two assists on the day. D'Amore boasted 29 points (13g, 16a) through JHU's first four games of 2013.
Junior Alyssa Leonard
made her impact on the contest with three goals and a game-high nine draw controls while fellow midfielder Gabriella Flibotte
sparked NU at both ends, particularly in the first half. The senior finished with two goals, three caused turnovers and a career-best six ground balls, a single-game high for Northwestern this season.
Also on attack, freshman Christina Esposito produced her second straight game with one goal and two assists for three points. In all, 11 different Wildcats combined to score NU's 18 goals.
For the Wildcats, the win was a chance to avenge a loss suffered in their last trip to Homewood Field, a 12-11 defeat to the Jays in April, 2011.
"We have a lot of young players but I'm sure for the people that were here in 2011, it was fresh in their heads and I think they wanted to come out and prove themselves," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "This is such an important game for us because it's a conference game and because the girls have been working really hard since our loss to UNC.
"Erin (Fitzgerald) obviously led us through that first half but we want to make sure we get a lot of kids involved in the scoring and I think we were able to do that today."
Fitzgerald accounted for the first three Northwestern shots of the day, breaking through for the game's first goal on her third attempt off a feed from freshman Christina Esposito. A trio of early turnovers by JHU allowed NU to keep possession and gain a 2-0 lead when senior Ali Cassera converted an 8-meter try, her seventh goal of 2013.
Reigning ALC Freshman of the Week Dene' DiMartino won the ensuing draw and took it upon herself to score the Jays' first goal of the afternoon. But that was the lone bright spot for the hosts over the first 15 minutes, as Northwestern's defensive pressure continued to result in JHU turnovers.
Freshman Kaleigh Craig sparked the Wildcats to their next two goals, finding space and beating Cosette Larash for a goal before feeding a cutting Fitzgerald, who finished while absorbing contact to make it 4-1 in Northwestern's favor.
Johns Hopkins pulled within one thanks to back-to-back goals, the second of which came on an unlucky bounce across the goalline following an apparent save by Bianco. But it was another Bianco save moments later that led to Northwestern's fifth goal of the day, an aggressive dodge and finish by Fitzgerald.
NU extended its lead to 6-3 thanks to a superb individual effort by Flibotte, who caused a turnover with a textbook stick-check at one end, collected the ground ball and raced the length of the field to fire a rocket past Lorash for the goal. On the next possession, Bianco turned away a JHU 8-meter attempt and kick-started a Northwestern fast break that saw Flibotte score once again in front of the cage, upping NU's lead to four and forcing a Blue Jays timeout.
One more surge into the fan by Fitzgerald with 10 seconds on the clock provided the Wildcats an 8-3 advantage heading into the locker rooms.
NU needed just 45 seconds to add to its lead in the second half, with Esposito earning an 8-meter try with a dodge through traffic in the fan and converting for her first goal of the day. After Alyssa Leonard made it two straight free position goals, freshman Lauren Murray used a deft move in front of the cage to beat Lorash and notch the first goal of her Wildcat career.
Northwestern continued to pour it on from there thanks to a 10-6 edge in draws in the second half, with Taylor Thornton and Leonard scoring less than a minute apart to set the count at 13-4. Fitzgerald netted her fifth of the day with 14:18 to play, and Amanda Macaluso fed Leonard for a quick-stick goal with 11 minutes remaining. Sophomore Jess Carroll also tallied once, accounting for NU's 16th goal of the day.
Sophomore midfielder Brooks Lawler, who attended perennial prep powerhouse McDonogh School in Baltimore, earned her first career start Saturday and tallied one late goal on a free position. Joining Murray as a first-time goal-scorer was freshman Jessica Dahldorf, who was fed by Esposito for a goal with 2:43 to play.
Northwestern now makes the short trip from Baltimore to Annapolis to prepare for a Monday afternoon matchup with defending Patriot League champion Navy. Opening draw at Memorial Stadium is set for 3 p.m. CT with the game being aired live to a national TV audience on CBS Sports Network.
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