May 25, 2008
Box Score (PDF)
Box Score |
TOWSON, Md. -- For the fourth-straight year, the Northwestern Wildcats are the queens of women's lacrosse, taking home their fourth-straight championship trophy with a 10-6 victory over Penn, avenging their only loss of the season. It caps off yet another amazing season for Northwestern, finishing the year 21-1.
"This is an incredible feeling winning a fourth-straight championship," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "Four in a row? Wow. It really feels great. I'm at a loss for words. It makes me so proud to be part of Northwestern University."
Junior Hilary Bowen (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) clinched her second-straight NCAA Championship MVP award with a three goal, one assist performance in the finals, tying an NCAA tournament record with 17 goals in the postseason. She finished her junior campaign with a school-best 81 goals and 101 points, while extending her consecutive goals streak to 40 games, dating to her freshman year.
Junior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) also came through on the sport's biggest stage and made her final definitive case for the Tewaaraton Trophy, netting three goals and adding three assists to finish the season with 114 points (51g, 63a), the second-best single-season performance in school history. Along with Bowen, the duo have notched at least one point in 44-straight games.
For the five Wildcat seniors, it caps off one of the most illustrious careers in women's lacrosse history. Christy Finch (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson), Quinn Cammarota (Northport, N.Y./Northport), Fallon McGraw (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's), Lindsay North (McLean, Va./McLean) and Hilary Alley (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) finished their NU careers with an overall record of 83-3, won four American Lacrosse Conference championships and hoisted the national championship trophy each of their four seasons in Evanston.
"I think this one was my favorite one," said Finch of her fourth title. "I just love this team and how we played together all year. It just feels great to be able to go out on top."
Penn would strike first as Ali DeLuca fired a shot through traffic and found the back of the net. But the lead wouldn't last long as Nielsen fired a rocket from the right past Sarah Waxman, knotting the game at one less than five minutes in, the first of four straight for the 'Cats. Meghan Plunkett (Towson, Md./Maryvale Prep) made the most of her homecoming, taking a pass from Bowen for a wide-open goal. Bowen and Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) helped extend the NU lead to 4-1.
The Quakers would trim into that deficit with just over seven minutes to go, but junior Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) quickly bumped the lead back to three 17 seconds.
Penn had a chance to slice into that lead with a free position shot with one second remaining in the half, but a big save from junior goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./The Hackley School) kept the Quakers from cutting into the advantage. It was perhaps the biggest of her season-high 11 saves on the evening, as it gave the `Cats the momentum heading into the break.
Back when the two teams met at the end of April, it was Penn who came out firing the second half, scoring seven unanswered goals to break the game open. This time, it was the Wildcats with the offensive charge, as a pair of goals from Bowen and another from Finch within the first eight minutes gave NU a five-goal advantage at 8-3, the largest deficit the Quakers had faced all season.
But Penn showed why they are one of the top two schools in the nation, as three Quaker goals cut the lead back to two with 13:43 to play, putting the nerves of the `Cats on edge.
Fitting that it was the most consistent player of the season that once again gave NU some breathing room, as Nielsen's 50th goal of the season put the Wildcats back on top 9-6 with 11:35 remaining. She would then clinch the fourth-straight title for Northwestern with her third goal of the game with 3:31 remaining, earning her a spot on the all-tournament team along with Lathrop, Finch, junior Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood), sophomore Maggie Bremer (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington), and Bowen.
As the Wildcats stormed the field, cut down the net, and celebrated with their fans, the word on everyone's mind was one that Hiller had attempted to downplay all season. But as far as Northwestern's status as a dynasty, perhaps its time to accept the distinction.
"I'm not going to say it, but if you want to say it, I'm okay with that," said Hiller.
For the fourth time in as many years, the Wildcats will return home champions, and are eager to share this championship with their fans. The national champs return home to Patten Gym at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 26. Fans are welcome and encouraged to come to the front steps of Patten and welcome home the Wildcats.