April 27, 2013
Box Score |
Score: No. 4 Northwestern 15, No. 16 Penn 8
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Lakeside Field)
Records: Northwestern (15-2, 4-1 ALC), Penn (9-5, 7-0 Ivy League)
Next NU Event: Friday, May 3 vs. Penn State or Vanderbilt Baltimore, Md. 5:30 p.m. CT
WATCH: Game Highlights | Postgame Interviews
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Fourth-ranked Northwestern capped a 15-2 regular season with a 15-8 victory over Ivy League-champion Pennsylvania Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 1,672 fans at Lakeside Field in Evanston. The 'Cats, who before the game honored seven seniors playing their final regular-season home game, received goals from five of those seniors, including four by Erin Fitzgerald.
Junior Kelly Rich added three goals to Northwestern's attack while Beatrice Conley and Alyssa Leonard each finished with three points, highlighting a group of nine Wildcat goal-scorers. The 15 goals for NU were the most by the Wildcats since netting 16 against Harvard on March 16.
"We had a couple of runs and gained some momentum and I thought toward the end we really closed the game out well, which is a positive," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "The girls really locked it in this week so we're excited with the step forward we made at Notre Dame and then I think taking another step today."
After taking a 6-3 lead into halftime, Northwestern led by as many as six goals at various points throughout the second half . But Penn, which entered the game having won nine of its last 10 outings, hung tough and eventually pulled to within three with 13:26 to play.
NU clamped down from that point on, however, receiving several key saves from sophomore goalkeeper Bridget Bianco and scoring the game's last four goals to walk away with its seventh straight win in the all-time series with the Quakers.
Following its pregame Senior Day festivities, Northwestern came roaring out of the gates with three goals in two-and-a-half minutes, a spurt capped by Leonard when she emerged with a loose ball near the restraining line and finished a fast-break on cage for her second goal of the day and 26th of the season.
The Quakers got on the board with an 8-meter at the 24:33 mark before Fitzgerald went to work and tallied back-to-back unassisted goals within a four-minute span, including a left-handed rocket over the shoulder of Penn goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson. Fitzgerald would later complete her first-half hat trick with a free position goal with 2:14 left before intermission, but Penn stayed within an arm's length thanks to a Shannon Mangini goal with 1:28 showing on the clock that set the halftime score at 6-3 Wildcats.
Once again the 'Cats were able to open a half in a big way, with senior Gabriella Flibotte winning the half's opening draw control and racing across the restraining line to feed Conley, who turned and bounced in a right-handed shot from the 8-meter arc only nine seconds into the half. Just 40 seconds later, Conley picked out a cutting Rich from behind the cage and Rich beat Ferguson to restore a five-goal Northwestern lead.
Northwestern's seniors continued to enjoy a stellar Senior Day as Cassera got in on the scoring action before defending Lacrosse Honda Sports Award winner Taylor Thornton wowed the crowd with a coast-to-coast goal punctuated by an aggressive dodge and score past Ferguson, putting NU in front 11-6.
After Rich completed her hat trick with an assist from Nancy Dunbar, Penn pieced together a 3-0 run over a seven-minute span to pull within three before order was restored for the 'Cats. With just over 11 minutes remaining, sophomore Jess Carroll earned three consecutive 8-meter opportunities, finally scoring on the third for her second goal in as many games this week.
With Bianco denying the Quakers at the other end, freshman Kaleigh Craig added to Northwestern's lead at the 5:44 mark and Fitzgerald notched her fourth of the day in a man-up situation to put the game away with 3:12 to play. Midfielder Alexa deLyra then made her Senior Day an even more memorable one, causing a turnover on the defensive end before netting her first goal of the season and second of her career with a nifty roll-dodge on the crease with 32 seconds remaining, capping NU's 15-8 win.
Several Wildcats reached milestones on the afternoon, beginning with Fitzgerald whose four points increased her career total to 212, good for 10th on Northwestern's all-time list. Leonard corralled five draw controls to become only the second NU player to record at least 100 in a single season and now stands eight shy of Danielle Spencer's single-season mark of 110.
Defensively, Flibotte recorded her 36th caused turnover of the season, tying Alex Frank for the third-best single-season total in NU history.
Northwestern's 2013 senior class of Cassera, Conley, deLyra, Fitzgerald, Flibotte Amanda Macaluso and Thornton improved to 77-8 in their four years on campus and 38-2 in 40 career games at Lakeside Field.
With the regular season in the rearview mirror, Northwestern turns its attention to its first postseason test, the 2013 American Lacrosse Conference Tournament hosted by Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. As the tournament's No. 2 seed, the Wildcats earned a first-round bye and will face the winner of a Penn State-Vanderbilt opening-round matchup at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday (May 3). Visit NUsports.com in the coming days for more information on the tournament and the ensuing NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on May 5.
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