EVANSTON, Ill. -- Kelly Amonte Hiller and Northwestern look to end the regular season on a winning note Saturday (1 p.m. CT) when they rekindle an old rivalry with Pennsylvania, the 2013 Ivy League champion and winner of nine of its last 10 games.
All fans are invited to arrive early to the game to help the Wildcats honor the seven outstanding members of the 2013 senior class on Senior Day at Lakeside Field. Additionally, the 'Cats will host a FREE pregame tailgate for all Northwestern students (valid WildCard required) as well as a postgame autograph session with select members of the defending NCAA champion Wildcats. Tickets may be purchased at the entrance for $7 (adults) or $4 (youth and senior citizens). All NU students are admitted at no charge to Northwestern Lacrosse games with presentation of their WildCard.
Fans unable to join the Wildcats at Lakeside Field can watch a free live stream of the game on NUsports.com or receive live updates by following @NU_SportsLIVE on Twitter.
Four Years and a Lifetime of Memories
Before taking the field against the Quakers, Northwestern Lacrosse will recognize the achievements of the seven graduating seniors on the 2013 roster, a class that has compiled an incredible won-loss record of 76-8, been part of two American Lacrosse Conference championship teams and helped bring home back-to-back NCAA Women's Lacrosse Championships in 2011 and 2012. They also have won 37 of 39 games played on their home turf in Evanston. This year's senior class includes: midfielder Ali Cassera (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex), attacker Beatrice Conley (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton), midfielder Alexa deLyra (Brightwaters, N.Y./Bay Shore), midfielder Erin Fitzgerald (Mt. Sinai, N.Y./Mt. Sinai), midfielder Gabriella Flibotte (Cohasset, Mass./Groton School), attacker Amanda Macaluso (Smithtown, N.Y./Hauppauge) and midfielder Taylor Thornton (Dallas, Texas/Hockaday School).
A quick glance at the national statistical rankings reveals a Wildcats team garnering important contributions from all over the field. NU stands 11th nationally in scoring defense and 18th in goals scored per game (13.0), also owning top-20 averages in caused turnovers (15th) and draw controls (17th). Individually, Alyssa Leonard's 6.4 draw controls per game rank her fourth in the country while Gabriella Flibotte is fifth with 2.27 caused turnovers per outing, and Erin Fitzgerald and goalkeeper Bridget Bianco stand 10th in the country in goals scored and goals against average, respectively.
Scouting the Quakers/Series Info 2013 Season: 9-4, 7-0 Ivy League (No. 16 IWLCA) 2012 Postseason: NCAA First Round Head Coach: Karin Brower Corbett (William & Mary '92); 146-84 at Penn (14th season) Key Players: Meredith Cain (Sr., M): 22 goals, 31 points, 35 draw controls; Maddie Poplawski (Sr., M): 14 goals, 37 draw controls, 20 ground balls; Shannon Mangini (Jr., M): 20 goals, 25 ground balls, 14 draw controls In the Cage: Lucy Ferguson (So., GK): 8.57 GAA, .462 save pct., 98 saves Series History: Northwestern leads, 10-2 Last Meeting: Northwestern 14, Penn 6 (April 8, 2012; Philadelphia, Pa.)
Northwestern and Penn developed a unique rivalry in recent seasons as the 'Cats and Quakers met in two national semifinal games and one NCAA title matchup between 2007-09, most recently NU's dramatic 13-12 double-overtime victory in the 2009 semifinals. Still, Northwestern has won 10 of 11 meetings since 2005, with Penn's lone win in that stretch coming five years ago to the day Saturday when the Quakers notched an 11-7 home victory on April 27, 2008. Penn is winless in four all-time trips to Evanston.
Last season, Northwestern jumped on Penn with a 5-0 early lead and cruised to a 14-6 win at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia, site of the Wildcats' 2007 NCAA championship win over Virginia.
Head coach Karin Brower Corbett and the Quakers arrive in Evanston as winners of nine of their last 10 games, a streak that allowed them to secure their seventh consecutive Ivy League championship. The Quakers have proven their mettle throughout the year by posting a 4-0 record in overtime games and a 4-1 mark in games decided by one goal. Penn has rebounded after a slow start that saw it lose its first three games of 2013 -- home tests against Drexel and North Carolina as well as a 6-5 road loss to Rutgers.
Home, Home On The Lake
With a 7-0 mark at Lakeside Field this year, Northwestern is looking to close out an unbeaten home regular season for the seventh time in Kelly Amonte Hiller's 12 seasons at the helm in Evanston, where the Wildcats are 89-2 since the start of the 2005 campaign. NU won an NCAA-record 58 consecutive home contests from May 13, 2004 through April 18, 2010.
Leonard Sets Sights on Single-Season Draws Record
Already Northwestern's career leader in draw controls with 278, junior Alyssa Leonard is now approaching the NU record for most draw controls in a single season. Leonard enters Wednesday's matchup with Notre Dame needing 13 draw controls to match Danielle Spencer's program record of 110 established in 2010. Spencer's 110 draws as a senior rank fourth in the NCAA record books while her fellow assistant coach at NU, Hillary Fratzke, owns the fifth-best single-season total of 107, a figure Fratzke achieved in only 17 games as a freshman at Towson in 2006. Maryland's Dana Dobbie set the NCAA single-season record with 126 draw controls in 2008.
As she turns down the home stretch of her senior season and Northwestern career, Taylor Thornton has made a late climb up the all-time rankings at NU in several statistical categories. In the past week, Thornton has moved into third place on the school's career lists for both caused turnovers (90) and ground balls (169), needing 14 ground balls to match Christy Finch's all-time record of 183. Additionally, Thornton stands seventh in career draw controls and could conceivably climb has high as third with a strong finish on the circle in the postseason.
Fitzgerald Still Streaking
Senior attacker Erin Fitzgerald has cemented herself as one of the nation's top offensive performers, beginning the week ranked 10th in the country with 3.2 goals per game and adding another hat trick Wednesday at Notre Dame. Fitzgerald has scored at least one goal in every game this year, in 19 straight dating back to last season and in 48 of her last 49 games, recently reaching the 200-career points plateau and moving past Hannah Nielsen into ninth on Northwestern's career goals list (182).
ALC Title to Be Contested in Baltimore
At 4-1 in league play, Northwestern joined a crowd of three teams atop the final American Lacrosse Conference standings this year. NU, Florida and Penn State each earned a share of the regular-season championship, with the Gators earning the No. 1 seed in the upcoming ALC Tournament by virtue of having the lowest total of goals surrendered in conference play (46). As the tournament's No. 2 seed, Northwestern receives a first-round bye and will face either No. 3 Penn State or No. 6 Vanderbilt in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. CT at Homewood Field in Baltimore. The 'Cats are 11-1 all-time in the six-year history of the ALC Tournament, winning five tournament titles. Visit the official ALC Tournament home page on HopkinsSports.com for more information.