April 27, 2012
No. 1 Northwestern (15-1, 4-1 ALC) vs. No. 9 Virginia (11-6, 2-3 ACC)
Saturday, April 28 Noon CT
Lakeside Field Evanston, Ill.
Live Stream: Big Ten Digital Network
Live Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Live Stats: Gametracker
Radio: WNUR 89.3 FM
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 1 Northwestern will start the festivities Saturday by honoring the six remarkable members of its 2012 senior class playing their final regular season home game, and then will look to end it with a win over ninth-ranked Virginia at Lakeside Field. The Wildcats will be trying to knock off an opponent ranked in the top 10 for the seventh time this season in a game with significant implications on seeding for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Opening draw is set for noon CT.
Following the 'Cats
Fans can once again watch all the action live from Lakeside Field via the Big Ten Digital Network's live online stream
; a re-air of the game on the linear Big Ten Network is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT on Monday, April 30. Live Twitter updates also will be available by following the username @NU_SportsLIVE
, and WNUR, Northwestern's student radio station, will broadcast the game on 89.3 FM.
Stellar Seniors Mark Final Regular Season Home Contest
Although Northwestern's senior class still has several goals it hopes to achieve in the postseason, Saturday's final regular season contest represents a chance to honor them for their outstanding achievements thus far at NU. All six -- Alex Frank, Brianne LoManto, Jessica Russo, Shannon Smith, Maria Tedeschi and Lacey Vigmostad have played significant roles in compiling an overall record of 79-5 during their time in Evanston, contributing to three ALC titles, an undefeated 2009 season as well as the 2009 and 2011 NCAA Championships. The group has played 61 games against ranked opponents and won 57 of them, including a 31-4 mark against top-10 teams.
Scouting the Cavaliers:
2012: 11-6, 2-3 ACC, 3-4 away, No. 9 IWLCA
Last Three Games: L vs. North Carolina (14-6); W vs. Boston College (13-8); W vs. Johns Hopkins (11-7)
Head Coach: Julie Myers (Virginia '90); 245-104 (17th season)
Key Players: Josie Owen (Sr.): 41 goals, 35 assists, 40 draw controls; Sloan Warren (Fr.): 25 goals, 37 points, 26 draw controls; Julie Gardner (Sr.): 20 goals, 13 assists, 13 ground balls
In Goal: Kim Kolarik (Jr.): 9.88 GAA, .410 save pct.; 105 saves
Perennially one of the ACC's flagship lacrosse programs, Virginia has persevered through a challenging schedule to post an 11-6 record, with key wins to its credit over rival Duke (14-12) and a Syracuse team currently ranked No. 2 nationally (9-7). Tewaaraton Award nominee Josie Owen has paced Virginia in her senior campaign with 41 goals and 76 points -- placing her eighth nationally in total points -- along with 40 draw controls, and has been complemented on attack by the arrival of freshman Sloan Warren (25 goals, 26 draw controls). Still, Virginia is not averse to playing a slower style on offense, ranking only 57th nationally in goals per game with 10.7.
Northwestern trails the all-time series with Virginia, 6-5, but is 5-1 against the Cavs since 2004. Virginia's last trip to Evanston in 2010 resulted in a weather-delayed overtime affair, where the Wildcats pulled away in the extra session to notch an 11-8 victory. Last year's contest in Charlottesville also seemed destined for overtime with the game tied at four with under six minutes to play, but Northwestern exploded for four goals in the final 5:48 to claim an 8-4 road win.
Last Time Out
Facing the second of three straight top-10 opponents to close the season, No. 1 Northwestern ran its offense to near perfection in the first half and rode that hot start to an efficient 17-7 victory over No. 6 Notre Dame at Lakeside Field Wednesday night. Junior Erin Fitzgerald scored all five of her points (four goals, one assist) in the opening half and senior Shannon Smith matched that with two goals and three assists to drive NU's attack. Junior Taylor Thornton notched three caused turnovers and a team-best five ground balls, while a solid team effort on draw controls -- with eight NU players winning at least one -- helped the Wildcats win for the 12th straight time against Notre Dame.
Wildcat 'D' Among Nation's Best
Northwestern's defense has ranked among the stingiest in the country all season, beginning this week third nationally with a scoring defense average of 7.13 per game. Senior goalkeeper Brianne LoManto continues to lead all netminders in goals against average at 6.89 and last week became the fourth NU goalie to reach 400 saves for her career. Against the sixth-ranked Fighting Irish Wednesday night, NU held the Notre Dame attack to seven goals, exactly half of its per-game average entering the game.
Smith Climbs Northwestern, NCAA Record Lists
Senior attacker Shannon Smith's has moved into some impressive company on both the NU and NCAA career scoring lists. Her five-point effort vs. Notre Dame on Wednesday inched her to within 10 goals of matching Kristen Kjellman's school record of 250 for her career. She also stands tied with Kjellman for third on NU's career assists list (99) and needs 10 points to match her for second in career points. Smith, who has started all 84 games in her career, also has a place on the NCAA all-time lists for both points (10th, 339) and goals (13th, 240).
Follow Fitzgerald's Lead
Northwestern junior Erin Fitzgerald has led or tied for the team lead in goals in each of the last five games for the Wildcats, and already has surpassed her 2011 totals for goals (43), assists (9) and points (52) this year. Much of Fitzgerald's damage has come off the 8-meter, where she is 17-of-28 for the year and 5-of-6 in her last two games.
With the curtain closing on another remarkable regular season, Northwestern begins the battle for postseason glory at the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament next week, hosted by the University of Florida. NU earned the tournament's No. 2 seed and subsequently drew a first-round bye, leaving it to await the winner of a matchup between Penn State and either Johns Hopkins, Ohio State or Vanderbilt, pending the outcome of Saturday's regular-season finale between the Blue Jays and Buckeyes. For more information on the ALC Tournament, visit the event's home page on GatorZone.com.
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