May 17, 2007
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#1 Northwestern (18-1) vs. #7 Syracuse (13-5)
Thomas Athletic Complex Evanston, Ill.
May 19, 2007 1 p.m. CT
Radio: WNUR 89.3 FM
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Top-ranked Northwestern (18-1) will attempt to punch its ticket to Philadelphia when they welcome No. 7 Syracuse (13-5) for the quarterfinals of the 2007 NCAA Lacrosse Championship in Evanston. Game time is 1 p.m. CT and can be heard live over the airwaves on WNUR 89.3 FM or at wnur.org. Fans can also follow the scoring live online at NUsports.com.
Northwestern advanced to this Saturday's quarterfinal round by defeating Holy Cross 19-7 on Sunday while Syracuse picked up its first-ever NCAA win with a 16-10 win at Vanderbilt.
Just like the previous meeting this season, Saturday's meeting between Northwestern and Syracuse has all the ingredients for a shootout on paper. The Wildcats (16.7 goals per game) and Orange (15.3) are ranked first and second in the nation in scoring, respectively. However, it was the defenses of both teams that stole the show in the March 30 meeting that saw the Wildcats prevail 10-7 in Evanston.
This is Northwestern's fourth-straight year playing in the NCAA Championship in the program's sixth year back as a varsity team. This year the Wildcats received the ALC's automatic bid by capturing the inaugural ALC Tournament title. Overall, this is the Wildcats' ninth NCAA bid, receiving five during the first era of lacrosse from 1982-92. The 'Cats are now 10-1 in the championship under head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and have won nine-straight.
Amonte Hiller Tops in NCAA Winning Percentage
Head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller spouts the best all-time winning percentage of any women's coach in the history of the NCAA Championship (minimum 10 games). She has won 91 percent of her games (10-1) and has not lost since the quarterfinals in 2004 to No. 2 seed Virginia. The Wildcats went 1-1 in 2004, 4-0 in '05 and '06 and are 1-0 so far in 2007.
Kjellman Closing in On Tournament Record
Kristen Kjellman has scored 33 career goals in 11 NCAA games heading into Saturday -- four shy of the all-time record of 37 set by Jen Adams of Maryland (1998-2001). Kjellman averages 3.0 goals per game in the NCAA Championship, scoring in every game except for last year's final against Dartmouth when she was hobbled by an ankle injury. She has risen to the occasion in the big games, most notably in the 2005 championship game against Virginia when she scored five goals and in last year's national semifinal when she scored four to knock off top-seeded Duke in overtime. She also tallied five goals her freshman season in the 2004 quarterfinal loss to No. 2 seed Virginia -- the last time NU lost an NCAA game.
Syracuse, winners in seven of its last eight games, won its first-ever NCAA game against Vanderbilt last Sunday in the opening round. The Orange is making its sixth trip to the NCAA Championship and its first with an automatic bid. The Orange earned the BIG EAST's bid by winning the inaugural BIG EAST Tournament. Syracuse features the nation's No. 2 attack with 15.3 goals per game. Sophomore Katie Rowan does it all for the Orange, setting school records for goals (58) and points (83) in a season this year. She is one of four other Orange players with 44 or more goals. Christina Dove and Halley Quillinan each have 47 while Ashley Pike rounds out the leaders with 44. Amber Pardee-Hill, who held the Wildcats to 10 goals earlier this season, has played every minute in goal, recording 180 saves. Head coach Lisa Miller, who was named the head coach in 1998, was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for her efforts this season.
This will be the fourth meeting in the all-time series overall. The Wildcats lead 2-1, winning the previous meeting this year 10-7 in Evanston and winning another nail-biter last season 13-11 in the Carrier Dome. The first meeting was back in 2003 when the Orange defeated the 'Cats 14-3 at Syracuse.
Two Wildcats Among Five Tewaaraton Finalists
The Tewaaraton Award Foundation announced the five finalists for this year's women's Tewaaraton Trophy -- the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse. Among them are not one, but two players from Northwestern in senior midfielder Kristen Kjellman -- last year's winner -- and sophomore attacker Hannah Nielsen. Both players will represent the Wildcats in Washington, D.C., on May 30 for the presentation of the award. Kjellman, a finalist for the third-straight year, leads the nation's top scoring team with 60 goals to compliment 23 assists on the season and has scored 31 goals in the last eight games. Nielsen has enjoyed a breakout season, leading the Wildcats with 110 points -- a NU single-season record -- on 47 goals and a team-high 63 assists -- another NU single-season record. The other three finalists are Duke's Caroline Cryer, Maryland's Dana Dobbie and Mary Key from Johns Hopkins. All five finalists' teams are still alive in the NCAA Championship.
The Wildcats are one of the nation's top scoring teams, due mainly to their multiple threats on attack. Northwestern has five players with 42 or more goals, led by Kristen Kjellman's 60. Meredith Frank (54) and Hilary Bowen (50) are right behind Kjellman while Hannah Nielsen comes in fourth with 47. Aly Josephs rounds out the top scorers with 42. Since they were held to single digits in the opener at UNC, the Wildcat attack has exploded, averaging 17.3 goals over their 18-game win streak.
Kjellman Heats Up When it Matters
Yes, Kristen Kjellman may have had a slower start to the 2007 season -- if you call 29 goals and 16 assists in 11 games a slow start. If you were reigning Tewaaraton Trophy winner, you would probably draw a lot of attention, too. But all that has changed over the past month as she has once again regained her dominant form. She has scored 31 goals over the last eight games (3.9 per game) and leads the nation's top scoring team with 60 goals to compliment 23 assists. She was named to the ALC All-Tournament team, highlighted by a five-goal, three-assist performance in the championship game against No. 8 Johns Hopkins and tied a season-high six goals in the regular-season finale win over Hofstra. She won the 2007 ALC Player of the Year honor for the third-straight year and was a first team all-ALC selection for the fourth-straight year.
Awesome AussieRanks second in the NCAA with 3.3 assists and fourth with 5.8 points per game overall.
Leads the Wildcats with 110 points on 47 goals and a team-high 63 assists.
Set the Northwestern single-season records with 110 points and 63 assists -- second-highest on the all-time NCAA list (record is 66).
Tallied a career-high nine points in the win at Boston and has six games with eight or more points.
2007 First Team All-ALC selection and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist.
Just call her the Steve Nash of women's lacrosse if you will. Sophomore Hannah Nielsen has been the straw stirring the 'Cats drink in 2007, dishing out one beautiful assist after another. She has been on a tear of late, dishing out 25 assists over the last five games -- an average of 5.0 per game. She recorded seven assists in back-to-back games against Ohio State and Hofstra -- tying the school's single-game record -- and totaled nine assists and seven goals in the two ALC Tournament wins, earning tournament MVP honors.
Kjellman Among Elite Company
With 244 goals and 98 assists (342 points), Kristen Kjellman needs two more assists to become the eighth player in the history of NCAA Division I women's lacrosse to record at least 200 goals and 100 assists in a career.
Kjellman solidified herself in the NU record books March 30 against Syracuse as her three points made her NU's all-time points leader, breaking the old mark of 289 set back in 1987 by Kate Oleykowski. She then added to her resume later in the year, becoming the school's all-time goals leader (now 244) with six in the win over Hofstra April 29. She broke the record of 228, also set by Oleykowski in 1987. Kjellman now has 342 total points and became just the 16th player in the history of NCAA Division I women's lacrosse to eclipse 300 total points. Kjellman is currently ranked 12th nationally with 3.16 goals, 14th with 4.4 points and eighth with 3.6 draw controls per game.
The Wildcats are one tough cookie at home, winning 31-straight games in Evanston dating to 2004. Northwestern went unbeaten at home the past two seasons and is 11-0 in Evanston so far this year. The NCAA record is 41 home wins in a row set by Maryland from 1997-2001.
There are two players in the country this season with at least 60 goals and 60 draw controls: One of them is Northwestern's Kristen Kjellman and the other being Georgetown's Coco Stanwick.
Kristen Kjellman -- Northwestern (60g, 68dc)
Coco Stanwick -- Georgetown (63g, 79dc)
Kjellman Notches 50 Goals/70 Points--Again
As mentioned, the senior All-American has come on strong at the end of the season, recording 31 goals in the last eight games. In the regular season finale win over Hofstra she tied a season high with six goals, putting her over 50 for the season -- making her the first Wildcat in school history to record 50 or more goals four-straight years. She scored 53 as a freshman in 2004, 59 in 2005, 72 last season and 60 so far this year. She also went over the 70-point mark for the fourth-straight season at the ALC Tournament. She is one of only three current players in Division I to record at least 70 points four-straight years.
'Cats `D' Puts the Clamps on Opponents
With all the offensive fireworks Northwestern's attack displays, probably the biggest part that gets overlooked is its defense. As of the NCAA stats released May 13, NU currently leads the nation in scoring defense at 5.8 goals per game. Goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop leads in goals-against average (5.55) and in save percentage (.595) while junior Christy Finch is second with 2.79 caused turnovers per game. Northwestern has only allowed one opponent -- Notre Dame -- to score in double-digits this season with 10 goals. Of the 19 games this year, NU's defense has given up five or fewer goals 10 times. They held No. 8 Syracuse -- the nation's top scoring team at the time with 15.8 per game -- to seven goals, its lowest offensive output of the season and held No. 4 Duke -- also more than 15 goals per game coming in -- to its lowest offensive output (five goals) since 2005.
Early and Often
The Wildcats have made a living jumping out to big leads this season. Through 19 games NU has outscored the opposition 182-50 in the first half of games -- an average score of 9-2 at the half. They led 13-0 at the half at Vanderbilt, 12-4 at Notre Dame, 10-1 vs. UMass, 7-0 at Boston University, 13-3 vs. UConn, 10-1 vs. Rutgers, 13-3 vs. Ohio State and 10-3 vs. Hofstra.
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