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    `Cats Begin Title Defense Against Denver Friday in San Diego, Calif.

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Senior goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop boasts a 60-3 career record in net for the Wildcats.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Senior goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop boasts a 60-3 career record in net for the Wildcats.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Jan. 20, 2009

    Northwestern Lacrosse Weekly Release - Jan. 20, 2009 Get Acrobat Reader

    Opening Draw
    Northwestern begins the defense of its national championship facing Denver on Friday, Jan. 23, in San Diego, Calif. The Wildcats head to sunny California to participate in the WomensLax.com's "Surfside Lacrosse Cup," where they will take on the Pioneers at 10 p.m. Central time. NU then faces Team Canada in an exhibition game Saturday, Jan. 24, at 9:30 p.m.

    Scouting Denver
    The Pioneers are coming off a 13-6 season in 2008, finishing the year ranked 18th in the Inside Lacrosse final poll. Denver swept through the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, finishing 5-0 for the second-consecutive year before falling to Stanford 9-8 in the MPSF Championship game. The Pioneers are a senior-laden club, returning nine of its 12 starters from last season, including its top nine point scorers. The offensive charge is headed by senior Steph Coyne who was the team leader in both assists (53) and points (86). Seniors Megan Carver (69 points) and Karen Morton (61) return for Denver, as does junior Ali Flury who was the Pioneers' top goal-scorer in 2008 with 50. Senior defenders Natasha Davies and Jenn Moore anchor Denver's defensive backfield, combining for 55 caused turnovers and 51 ground balls last year. The one position where the Pioneers lack experience is in net, as sophomore Katie Gold looks to earn the starting nod after posting a 2-3 record in 2008 with 48 saves, a .425 save percentage and a 9.30 goals against average. Head coach Liza Kelly has posted a 29-9 (.763) record in her three years at Denver and is 93-42 (.689) in her seven seasons as a head coach.

    Series Information
    Friday's game marks the fourth meeting between the Wildcats in Pioneers, and the first since 2006, with Northwestern holding a 3-0 series advantage. NU took the first meeting 16-4 in Evanston in 2004, then followed it up with a 20-9 victory in Denver in 2005. The last meeting between the two took place in Evanston in 2006 with the Wildcats coming out on top 19-10. Seniors Hilary Bowen, Meredith Frank and Hannah Nielsen each tallied a goal for the `Cats while Bowen and Frank each added a pair of assists.

    `Cats Return Veteran Lineup
    Experience will be the key for the Wildcats in 2009 as they return perhaps it's deepest team in the program's history. 11 seniors dominate the roster, including reigning Tewaaraton Trophy winner and national Player of the Year Hannah Nielsen and two-time NCAA Championship MVP Hilary Bowen. Northwestern returns 10 of its 12 starters from last season's national championship squad, including All-Americans Meredith Frank and Morgan Lathrop. In addition, four juniors and nine sophomores will be back in a Wildcat uniform, all of which gained valuable game experience in 2008.

    Milestone Watch
    A handful of Wildcat seniors sit poised to achieve some impressive milestones during the 2009 year. Hannah Nielsen already sits atop the Wildcats' all-time assist list with 141, and needs 38 assists to surpass Jen Adams (Maryland, 1998-01) as the NCAA's all-time assist queen. She also ranks fourth all-time in points (256) and is tied for 10th in goals (115) at NU. Hilary Bowen also looks to move up the Wildcats' all-time charts as she enters the season ranked fifth in goals (164) and sixth in both points (233) and assists (69). Bowen also holds the first- and sixth-best goal seasons in program history, with 81 in 2008 and 61 in 2007. Meredith Frank currently is ninth all-time in both goals (122) and assists (47), and her 169 career points is on the verge of breaking into the top-10 for career points. Goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop looks to make her mark on the record books as well, entering 2009 with 422 career saves, well within striking range of Ashley Gersuk's school record 526. Gersuk also holds the modern-era record for career save percentage at .492, another mark Lathrop will have her sights on, entering her senior season with a .509 save percentage.

    For the complete weekly release, click on the PDF link above.