April 17, 2012
No. 1 Northwestern (14-0, 4-0 ALC) vs. No. 5 Florida (14-2, 4-0 ALC)
Saturday, April 21 1 p.m. CT
Lakeside Field Evanston, Ill.
Television: Big Ten Network (same-day tape delay (4 p.m. CT))
Live Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Live Stats: Gametracker
Radio: WNUR 89.3 FM
Buy NU Lacrosse Tickets Online! | 2012 Promotional Calendar
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Two down-to-the-wire wins over ranked opponents last weekend were only the start of Northwestern's exciting five-game homestand, which continues at 1 p.m. CT Saturday vs. No. 5 Florida. The 'Cats and Gators, who split their two meetings last season, bring matching 4-0 American Lacrosse Conference records into the game and are playing to determine the No. 1 seed in next month's ALC Tournament.
Prior to the game, Northwestern students are invited to a FREE
student tailgate in the parking lot at Lakeside Field beginning at 12:30 p.m.
. The team also will host an autograph session for any and all fans following the game.
Following the 'Cats
The Big Ten Network will carry Saturday's NU-Florida matchup on tape delay following the game, with the broadcast commencing at 4 p.m. CT Saturday. During the game, fans can follow the action via Twitter updates (@NU_SportsLIVE) and live stats on Gametracker.
Support Amonte Hiller in NACWAA's Title IX Trailblazer Award Competition!
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Title IX legislation, the National Association of Collegiate Women's Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) is sponsoring a contest to celebrate a trailblazer who has made significant contributions to gender equity. A winner will be selected from a list of 25 entrants from schools and conferences across the country, including Northwestern's six-time NCAA championship-winning women's lacrosse coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. To cast your vote for Amonte Hiller, simply click here to watch a YouTube video detailing the many ways in which Amonte Hiller is a trailblazer for women's lacrosse and women's athletics at large. The video with the most views between April 9 and April 23 will win a $9,000 prize for the nominating school, courtesy of the NACWAA Foundation Fund.
Scouting the Gators:
2012: 14-2, 4-0 ALC, 5-1 away, No. 5 IWLCA
Last Three Games: W vs. Vanderbilt (17-5); W at Johns Hopkins (13-12 OT); W vs. Penn State (20-11)
Head Coach: Amanda O'Leary (Temple, '88); 40-14 at Florida (third season)
Key Players: Kitty Cullen (Jr., A): 38 goals, 20 assists; Ashley Bruns (Jr., A): 39 goals, 20 assists, 17 ground balls; Nora Barry (Fr., M): 31 goals, 35 ground balls, 37 draw controls
In Goal: Mikey Meagher (Jr.): 7.44 GAA, 97 saves, .527 save percentage
Boasting a dynamic offensive attack that has seen four players top 30 goals this season, Florida ranks second nationally in goals per game with 17.25 while complementing that with a defense that leads the country with just 6.63 goals allowed per outing. Freshman Nora Barry has made an immediate impact in the midfield with 31 goals, 35 ground balls and 37 draw controls. The Gators, who bring with them to Evanston a 10-game winning streak, have lost this year only losses this year have been an 11-9 setback to then-No. 3 North Carolina in the season-opener and a 12-11 double-overtime defeat to a Syracuse squad currently ranked No. 2 nationally.
After Northwestern easily handled the Gators in Florida's inaugural season of Division I lacrosse (19-5), UF managed to hand the 'Cats their first loss of the 2011 season on April 14 in Gainesville, thanks largely to six goals by prolific scorer Kitty Cullen. The Wildcats earned their revenge less than a month later, however, coming back from an 8-5 halftime deficit -- and limiting Cullen to just one assist for the game -- to knock off the top-seeded Gators, 10-9, in the championship game of the ALC Tournament. The teams have combined for a 16-2 record in conference play the last two seasons.
Last Time Out
Scoring runs of six straight to open the game and five out of six to close it out were enough to propel top-ranked Northwestern past No. 19 Johns Hopkins, 16-12, in an exciting American Lacrosse Conference tilt Sunday at Lakeside Field. The Blue Jays staged an impressive comeback to tie the game at 11 with 20:39 to play, but freshman Casey Bocklet had a hand in NU's next three goals over a nine-minute span to help the hosts avoid defeat. JHU, which was responsible for one of Northwestern's two defeats in 2011, has lost by four or fewer goals in each of its last three trips to Evanston.
View from the Top
Northwestern remained the unanimous No. 1-ranked squad in this week's IWLCA poll for the fifth straight week, the 67th time out of a possible 93 ranking periods dating to 2005 in which the Wildcats have held the top spot in the country. Northwestern, the lone unbeaten team remaining in Division I women's lacrosse, has played five top-10 opponents this year and won those games by an average of 6.2 goals per game. The 'Cats sit No. 2 in the NCAA RPI rankings, where Florida stands at No. 4.
Since NU's current senior class arrived on campus for the 2009 season, NU has played 60 games against ranked opponents (including postseason) and won 57 of them. That includes a 30-3 mark against opponents ranked in the top 10.
After winning its first nine games of this season by an average of 12.3 goals per contest, Northwestern has of late adapted the Cardiac 'Cats moniker usually reserved for the NU football team. Three of Northwestern's last five victories have come by four goals or fewer, and the Wildcats rallied from second-half deficits in two of those contests. On March 31, Northwestern trailed No. 13 Ohio State 11-7 with 15 minutes remaining before staging a remarkable comeback, tying the game with 19 seconds left in regulation and winning a 13-12 decision in overtime. Going back to last season, Northwestern is 7-0 in its last seven games decided by two goals or fewer.
Thornton One of Nation's Top All-Around Talents
Junior Taylor Thornton earned 2011 IWLCA Division I Defender of the Year honors for her ability to combine lockdown defending with an end-to-end scoring threat. The Dallas native has continued to excel in all phases this year, ranking second on the team in draw controls (52) and is first with 35 ground balls, while already eclipsing her previous best for goals in a single season with 19. Thornton has been a scoring threat since the opening minute of the season when she notched NU's first goal of the 2012 campaign and scored back-to-back 8-meter goals vs. UNC to lead the Wildcats' comeback to an 8-7 victory. Some of her most complete performances have come when NU needed it most; Thornton had a career-best nine draw controls in the overtime win vs. Ohio State, and scooped up a career-best six ground balls in the narrow victory against the Tar Heels last Friday.
Smith Climbs Northwestern, NCAA Record Lists
Senior attacker Shannon Smith's recent hot streak -- she is averaging 5.0 points per game over her last eight outings -- has moved her into some impressive company on both the NU and NCAA career scoring lists. Her seven-point effort vs. Johns Hopkins on Sunday inched her to within 14 goals of matching Kristen Kjellman's school record of 250 for her career, and she needs just 17 points to match Kjellman for second place on NU's career points list. Smith, who has started all 82 games in her career, also has a place on the NCAA all-time lists for both points (12th, 332) and goals (13th, 236).
Northwestern Against the ALC
Few teams in any sport have had as much success against their conference opponents as Northwestern has had against American Lacrosse Conference foes over the past eight seasons. The Wildcats won 38 consecutive regular-season ALC games between May 6, 2004 and April 14, 2011, and now boast wins in 44 of their last 46 games against ALC opponents. Northwestern has won seven consecutive ALC titles and has won all five ALC tournaments since the event's inception in 2007. In 2011, the 'Cats entered the tournament without the No. 1 seed for the first time and still managed to bring home the hardware, avenging a prior loss to top-seeded Florida in the championship game, 10-9, in Nashville.
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