May 19, 2007
Box Score |
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Two down, two to go.
No. 1 Northwestern took another big step in its quest for a third-straight national title and earned its third-straight trip to the NCAA finals with a gutty 14-9 win Saturday over seventh-ranked Syracuse at the Thomas Athletic Complex in Evanston.
Meredith Frank and Hilary Bowen each had four goals for Northwestern, winners of 19-straight and 32 in a row at home.
All top four seeds advanced this afternoon and will square off next weekend at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. The Wildcats (19-1) will play No. 4-seed Penn (16-1) at 5 p.m. CT on Friday night in the first semifinal while No. 3 Virginia will play No. 2 Duke in the second game. NU defeated Penn earlier this season 13-4 in Evanston.
"We're very excited to be going to another final four," head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said after the game. "I want to give a lot of credit to Syracuse. They played a great game and they're very well coached. They're a big, tough, physical team and they match up very well against us. I was very pleased that we were able to pick it up in the second half, take control of the game and give ourselves a chance to go to another final four."
Just like the previous two meetings, Syracuse gave the Wildcats a run for their money. Northwestern had won the last two games by a combined five points (13-11 last year and 10-7 this season) and it wasn't until midway through the second half this time around when Northwestern finally came together and pulled away for the win.
Things looked good for the Wildcats at the start as they opened a 5-1 lead when Aly Josephs found Hilary Bowen for her second goal of the game with 18:26 left in the first.
But over the next 12 minutes, this year's BIG EAST champs came right back with four-straight goals to tie the game with 6:26 remaining. After a Northwestern timeout, Josephs ended the drought with an unassisted tally just over a minute later to go back up by one. Then, with under a minute left, SU's Kristin Brady tied the game once again on an assist from Jill DePetris.
Again, Northwestern bent but never broke.
No matter how close the Orange came, the Wildcats never relinquished the lead as Bowen sank her third goal of the half on a free-position attempt with 13 seconds on the clock as NU led by a point going into the second half.
NU won 11 of the 14 draw controls in the opening half but committed seven turnovers and scored on only seven of 19 goal opportunities.
"In the first half we made a lot of mental errors," Amonte Hiller said. "We weren't playing with much focus. We shot the ball poorly and made mental errors in the midfield. And when you play a good team and make errors like we were, they make you pay for it. We need to make sure we tighten that up for our next game and play a focused 60 minutes."
Northwestern settled down in the second half and took control. Leading 8-7 with 22 minutes left, the Wildcats scored six of the next seven goals to take a 14-8 lead with 6:46 left. Kristen Kjellman found the back of the net twice -- one while getting knocked to the ground -- while Nielsen, Bowen, Frank and Josephs all scored one during the decisive run.
Josephs finished with three goals and one assist while Nielsen had her one goal on a wrap-around to go along with two assists.
Halley Quillinan led Syracuse with three goals while Amber Pardee-Hill made 14 saves in goal.
Morgan Lathrop made eight saves in goal, giving her 146 for the season -- nine shy of the school's single-season record of 157 set back in 1988.
Other Notes:The Wildcats are making their third-straight NCAA finals appearance in only their sixth year back as a varsity program.
Northwestern has now won 19-straight games and 32 in a row at home dating to 2004.
Northwestern set a school record with 334 goals, breaking the mark of 333 set last year.
The Wildcats are now 11-1 in the NCAA Championship under Kelly Amonte Hiller and have won 10-straight NCAA games overall.
Amonte Hiller improves upon her all-time best winning percentage in women's NCAA history. She is 11-1 (.916) overall in the tournament.
In another close battle with the Orange, NU's average margin of victory in the last three meetings with Syracuse is 3.3 goals.
NU is now a remarkable 60-2 over the past three seasons.
NU has allowed only one team to score in double-figures this season (Notre Dame 10 on March 1).
Kristen Kjellman now has 35 goals in 12 NCAA Championship games. The record is 37 set by Jen Adams of Maryland.
With 65 assists, Hannah Nielsen needs one more to tie and two to break the NCAA's all-time single-season assists record of 66.