May 22, 2007
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Setting The Stage
The top-ranked Wildcats (19-1) are back in the NCAA Lacrosse Finals for the third-straight year. After defeating Holy Cross and Syracuse in the opening two rounds, the Wildcats have earned a date with No. 4 seed Penn -- the host school -- in the semifinals and will face the Quakers (16-1) on their home turf at 5 p.m. CT Friday, May 25 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. The winner moves on to Sunday night's championship game against either second-seed Duke or third-seed Virginia. Sunday's game is being televised live on CSTV.
Things To Keep In Mind:
The Wildcats, winners of 19-straight games, are making their third-straight NCAA Finals appearance in only their sixth year back as a varsity program.
The Wildcats are 11-1 in the NCAA Championship under Kelly Amonte Hiller and have won 10-straight NCAA games overall.
Amonte Hiller owns the all-time best winning percentage (.916) in women's NCAA history (minimum 10 games). She is 11-1 overall in the tournament.
Kristen Kjellman has 35 goals in 12 NCAA Championship games (2.9 per game). She needs two to tie and three to break the record of 37 set by Jen Adams of Maryland.
With 65 assists, Hannah Nielsen needs one more to tie and two to break the NCAA's all-time single-season assists record of 66.
NU is a remarkable 60-2 over the past three seasons.
'Cats Going For 3-Peat
Northwestern will attempt to become just the second women's team in NCAA lacrosse history to win three-straight NCAA championships. It would mark the first three-peat since Maryland won seven-straight titles from 1995-2001. The 'Cats also would be the fourth school to have won three or more titles overall.
Northwestern leads the all-time series with Penn 3-1, winning the last three meetings by a combined score of 43-18. NU won the only meeting this season 13-4 back on March 9 in Evanston. Northwestern's Kristen Kjellman has 13 goals in three career games with the Quakers.
Penn, winners of 13-straight games, is one of the hottest teams in college lacrosse and will get to play for its first national championship on its home turf at Franklin Field. Its only loss this season was to Northwestern back on March 9, 13-4 in Evanston. Since then they have knocked off seven ranked teams, including two top 10 teams in No. 7 Syracuse (10-8) and No. 5 Maryland (9-7). Chrissy Muller, a first team All-Ivy League choice, leads the team with 47 points (22g, 25a). Rachel Manson is the team's leading goal scorer with 36, followed by Ali DeLuca (34), the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year, and Becca Edwards (31). Sarah Waxman, another first team all-conference choice, has made 113 saves and spouts a .536 save percentage and a 6.15 GAA.
This is Northwestern's fourth-straight year playing in the NCAA's 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 in Baltimore. Overall, this is the Wildcats' ninth NCAA appearance, receiving five during the first era of lacrosse from 1982-92. The 'Cats are now 11-1 in the championship under head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and have won 10-straight NCAA matches.
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 (11-1) 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 2-0 so far in 2007.
The Wildcats are one of the nation's top scoring teams, due mainly to their multiple threats on attack. Northwestern has five players with 45 or more goals--the only school in th country to accomplish that this season--and are led by Kristen Kjellman's 62. Meredith Frank (58) and Hilary Bowen (54) are right behind Kjellman while Hannah Nielsen comes in fourth with 48. Aly Josephs rounds out the top scorers with 45. Since they were held to single digits in the opener at UNC, the Wildcat attack has exploded, averaging 17.1 goals over their 19-game win streak.
Kjellman Closing in On Tournament Record
Kristen Kjellman has scored 35 career goals in 12 NCAA Championship games heading into this weekend -- two shy of the all-time record of 37 set by Jen Adams of Maryland (1998-2001). Kjellman averages 2.9 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 then in last year's national semifinal when she scored four goals to help NU 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.
Rewriting the Record Books
With its 14th goal in the win over Syracuse, Northwestern set a new school record with 334 goals, breaking the record of 333 set last season (the NCAA record for goals is 351). They also need seven more points to tie and eight to break the NCAA record of 498 and need eight more assists to tie the record of 165 -- both of which also were set by the Wildcats last season. Further, with 16.7 goals per game, the 'Cats also are lined up to break the NCAA goals per game record of 16.1.
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 62 goals to compliment 23 assists on the season and has scored 33 goals in the last nine games.
Nielsen has enjoyed a breakout season, leading the Wildcats with 113 points -- a NU single-season record -- on 48 goals and a team-high 65 assists -- another NU single-season record and one shy of the NCAA mark. The other three finalists are Duke's Caroline Cryer, Maryland's Dana Dobbie and Mary Key from Johns Hopkins.
Kjellman Among Elite Company
With 246 career goals and 98 assists (344 points), Kristen Kjellman needs two more assists to become only 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 246) with six in the win over Hofstra April 29. She broke the record of 228, also set by Oleykowski in 1987. Kjellman now has 344 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 14th nationally with 3.1 goals, 20th with 4.2 points and eighth with 3.6 draw controls per game.
Kjellman Heats Up
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 and a half as she has once again regained her dominant form. She has scored 33 goals over the last nine games (3.7 per game) and leads the nation's top scoring team with 62 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 3.25 assists and fourth with 5.7 points per game overall.
Leads the Wildcats with 113 points on 48 goals and a team-high 65 assists.
Set the Northwestern single-season records with 113 points and 65 assists -- second-highest on the all-time NCAA list (record is 66).
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 27 assists over the last six games -- an average of 4.5 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.
There are three players in the country this season with at least 60 goals and 60 draw controls: one of them is Northwestern's Kristen Kjellman.
Kristen Kjellman -- Northwestern (62g, 72dc)
Coco Stanwick -- Georgetown (63g, 79dc)
Caroline Cryer -- Duke (67g, 64dc)
Kjellman Nets 50 Goals/70 Points -- Again
As mentioned, the senior All-American has come on strong at the end of the season, recording 33 goals in the last nine games. In the regular season finale win over Hofstra she tied a season high with six goals, putting her over 50 for the season and 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 62 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' Defense Ranked No. 1
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 20, NU currently leads the nation in scoring defense at 5.9 goals per game. Goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop leads in goals-against average (5.74) and in save percentage (.586) while junior Christy Finch is second with 2.8 caused turnovers per game. Northwestern has only allowed one opponent -- Notre Dame -- to score in double-digits this season with 10 goals. Of the 20 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 in the regular season, 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 20 games NU has outscored the opposition 189-56 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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