May 5, 2012
Box Score | ALC Championship Photo Gallery
ALC Tournament Championship
Site: Gainesville, Fla. (Donald R. Dizney Stadium)
Score: No. 3 Florida 14, No. 1 Northwestern 7
Records: NU (17-2, 4-1 ALC), Florida (17-2, 5-0 ALC)
Next NU Event: NCAA Tournament Selection Show Sunday, May 6 8 p.m. CT
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For the second straight year, Northwestern trailed a top-seeded Florida team by a three-goal margin early in the second half of the American Lacrosse Conference championship game. But unlike a season ago, the Wildcats on Saturday could not mount a game-winning comeback and ultimately dropped a 14-7 decision at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville.
Northwestern, whose only other defeat on the year was an 8-7 loss to the Gators on April 21, saw its run as the only champion in the five-year history of the ALC Tournament come to an end.
Junior Amanda Macaluso was responsible for three of NU's scores on the day for her first hat trick of the year, while conference player of the year Taylor Thornton notched her second straight two-goal game and added two caused turnovers. Senior midfielder Alex Frank caused a pair of turnovers and scooped up three ground balls on the afternoon.
A Gator goal 41 seconds after the opening whistle gave the hosts a quick 1-0 lead, but Northwestern answered on its first trip into the offensive third with an 8-meter goal by sophomore Kara Mupo at the 25:04 mark. UF's Shannon Gilroy restored a Gator lead with a free position tally one minute later and then a goal out of the run of play with 20 minutes left in the half.
After Northwestern was unsuccessful on consecutive 8-meter attempts, Florida grew its lead to 4-1 at the 12:41 mark when Kitty Cullen drew a shooting space foul on the Wildcats and converted her shot to the far post. She made it two free positions in a row shortly after, increasing Florida's lead to 5-1 with 11:29 before half.
Struggling to find good looks on offense, NU received a big save in goal by Brianne LoManto on a close-range shot by UF's Ashley Bruns and, moments later, saw Taylor Thornton put away a free position shot to cut the deficit to three. But Gilroy scored her third of the half on a transition breakout by the Gators with three minutes left before the break.
Macaluso did her best to give NU momentum heading into the locker rooms with her 8-meter goal with 21 seconds showing on the clock, but Florida managed to win the ensuing draw control and score just 11 seconds later to set the halftime margin at four, 7-3 in the Gators' favor.
Northwestern got off to a strong start in the second with a big save by LoManto on a shot by Cullen, followed by Macaluso's second 8-meter goal of the day just over two minutes into the half. It was answered soon thereafter by Gilroy on a free position, her fifth tally of the afternoon, as UF remained ahead, 8-4.
Macaluso continued to drive the NU offense, scoring off a swift spin move through the fan and a pump fake to beat UF goalkeeper Mike Meagher, drawing NU within three. Just over two minutes later, however, Florida executed a give-and-go play off an 8-meter chance to set up a Brittany Dashiell goal and restore a four-goal lead.
Northwestern worked hard to regain possession over the next 10 minutes but was hampered by a series of costly turnovers on its transition into the attack. Florida capitalized on its extra chances when, at the 13:12 mark, Caroline Chesterman was left open on the crease for a quickstick goal that put the Gators ahead 10-5. The hosts then opened their biggest lead of the game, 11-5, and responded to a Lacey Vigmostad 8-meter score when a fortuitous bounce on a loose ball caromed into the NU cage, leaving UF up 12-6.
Thornton completed an end-to-end run for a goal at the 8:26 mark, keeping NU alive trailing by five goals. But Florida kept the Wildcats at bay with strong goalkeeping by Meagher down the stretch.
Florida fought its way to an 18-5 advantage on the draw controls, while Northwestern held the edge in both ground balls (22-16) and caused turnovers (12-10). Both teams committed 23 fouls.
Following the game, Northwestern's Taylor Thornton, Alex Frank and Gabriella Flibotte each were named to the ALC All-Tournament Team.
On Sunday, Northwestern will learn its first opponent in its quest for the program's seventh NCAA championship with the release of the NCAA Tournament bracket, scheduled for 8 p.m. CT. Visit NUsports.com to learn the details of possible postseason homes for Northwestern in the coming weeks.
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