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    Powerhouses Collide Friday as 'Cats, Terps Clash in NCAA Semifinals

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Erin Fitzgerald scored one goal in NU's last meeting with Maryland in the 2011 title game. All eight Wildcat goals that day were scored by Long Island natives.
    Erin Fitzgerald scored one goal in NU's last meeting with Maryland in the 2011 title game. All eight Wildcat goals that day were scored by Long Island natives.

    May 23, 2012

    2012 NCAA Tournament -- Semifinals
    (2) Northwestern (19-2, 4-1 ALC) vs. (3) Maryland (19-3, 3-2 ACC)
    Friday, May 25 • 7 p.m. CT
    Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium • Stony Brook, N.Y
    Live Online Stream:
    Live Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Radio: WNUR 89.3 FM
    Northwestern vs. Maryland -- Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

    WATCH: Wednesday Practice Report | WATCH: L. Vigmostad Feature

    NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament -- Updated Bracket

    STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- The last time Northwestern was on the field at Stony Brook's Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, it was celebrating its sixth NCAA championship in seven years following an 8-7 win over rival Maryland. On Friday, two of the sport's titans renew acquaintances in the same venue as the 'Cats and Terps meet at 7 p.m. CT Friday on Long Island in the semifinals of the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament.

    NU and Maryland, which have combined to win 17 NCAA championships and the last seven in a row, are fighting for the right to face either top-seeded Florida or No. 4 Syracuse in Sunday's national championship game (7 p.m. CT). The Wildcats are 7-0 all-time in NCAA semifinal contests and are looking for their eighth consecutive trip to the title game.

    Following the 'Cats
    For the first time, all three games from the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship will be carried live on the ESPN family of networks. Friday's semifinal games (4:30 p.m. CT and 7 p.m. CT) each will stream live on, while Sunday's championship contest will air live from Stony Brook on ESPNU at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN's Joe Beninati (play-by-play), Courtney Martinez-Connor (analyst) and John Brickley (sideline) will be on the call. Fans also can receive live in-game updates by following @NU_SportsLIVE on Twitter.

    Ties That Bind
    The world of collegiate women's lacrosse is a small one, and one need only to look at this year's crop of head coaches in the semifinals for proof of that. Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller has direct ties to all three of her fellow head coaches at this year's Final Four, the only one in the group to be able to say that. Below is a look at her connections to her peers this week:

    • Florida's Amanda O'Leary was an assistant at Maryland during Amonte Hiller's freshman season (1993).
    • Syracuse's Gary Gait was a Terps assistant for Amonte Hiller's final two years at UMD (1995-96).
    • Maryland's Cathy Reese was a teammate of Amonte Hiller's in College Park in 1995 and 1996.

    Scouting the Terrapins:
    2012: 19-3, 3-2 ACC, 2-0 neutral, No. 3 IWLCA
    Last Three Games: W vs. Loyola (Md.) (17-11), W vs. UMass (15-12), W vs. Georgetown (19-10)
    Head Coach: Cathy Reese (Maryland '98); 98-11 at Maryland (sixth season)
    Key Players: Katie Schwarzmann (Jr., M): 65 goals, 22 assists; Kari Ellen Johnson (Sr., A): 53 goals, 18 assists, 76 draw controls; Alex Aust (Jr., A): 44 goals, 52 assists
    In Goal: Brittany Dipper (Sr.): 7.82 GAA, .480 save pct., 144 saves

    • Third-seeded Maryland has advanced to Stony Brook with early-round victories against Massachusetts (15-12) and sixth-seeded Loyola (17-11), with Tewaaraton Award finalist Katie Schwarzmann notching a career-high eight points against the Greyhounds to raise her team-best total to 69 on the year. Head coach Cathy Reese, now in her sixth season at the helm of her alma mater, has guided her team to a 19-3 record with their only blemishes coming against Syracuse, North Carolina and Duke. The Terps avenged their loss to the Tar Heels in the ACC Championship, however, relying heavily on the playmaking ability of junior Alex Aust; Aust set ACC Championship records for both points (17) and assists (13) in a single tournament.

    Series Information
    The upcoming rematch of the last two NCAA championship games -- which resulted in a 13-11 Maryland victory in 2010 and an 8-7 NU win a year ago -- marks the 13th all-time meeting between the two lacrosse powers. Maryland leads the series 7-5 while Northwestern has won three of the four matchups since it returned to varsity status in 2002. The two recent championship game meetings each featured come-from-behind efforts by the eventual winners; in 2010, Maryland responded from a 6-0 first-half deficit to interrupt NU's run of five consecutive championships, while the 2011 Wildcats bounced back from an early 4-1 deficit to tie things up at five by halftime and eventually prevail on Shannon Smith's fourth goal of the game.

    Northwestern vs. Maryland -- All-Time Series
    2011: Northwestern 8, Maryland 7 (NCAA Final)
    2010: Maryland 13, Northwestern 11 (NCAA Final)
    2007: Northwestern 12, Maryland 7
    2006: Northwestern 13, Maryland 8
    1991: Maryland 18, Northwestern 6
    1990: Maryland 14, Northwestern 12 (OT)
    1989: Maryland 8, Northwestern 7
    1988: Northwestern 7, Maryland 6
    1987: Northwestern 9, Maryland 8
    1986: Maryland 11, Northwestern 7 (NCAA Quarterfinal)
    1986: Maryland 11, Northwestern 6
    1985: Maryland 17, Northwestern 5

    Advancing Against the ACC
    Kelly Amonte Hiller, a former All-American at Maryland and teammate of Terps head coach Cathy Reese, has been able to continue the success against ACC opponents she grew accustomed to in her playing days. Since taking over the reins of Northwestern in 2002, the Wildcats have played 39 games against Atlantic Coast opponents, posting a 31-8 record with a 15-1 mark in games played in Evanston. Northwestern, which was 6-0 last season against ACC squads, is now 11-2 all-time vs. ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament under Amonte Hiller after eliminating Duke last week.

    Amonte Hiller to Be Inducted to National Lacrosse Hall of Fame
    On Wednesday, May 23, U.S. Lacrosse announced the eight members of the 2012 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame class, a group that includes Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. Amonte Hiller is being inducted in honor of her tremendous playing career, which included back-to-back national player of the year awards in 1995-96, two NCAA championships at Maryland and three trips to the Women's World Cup as a leader on the U.S. National Team (1997, 2001, 2005). The entire class -- which also features Amonte Hiller's former coach and mentor at Maryland Cindy Timchal -- will be officially inducted on Saturday, Oct. 20, at a ceremony in Hunt Valley, Md.

    Island Fantasies
    Now in its second year as the host institution for the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Tournament, Stony Brook University on Long Island has afforded a great number of the nation's top collegiate talent to return to their roots and compete for a national title. Ten of Northwestern's 34 players hail from Long Island, with nearly all of them making significant on-field contributions to the Wildcats this season. In fact, during NU's championship game win over Maryland in 2011, all eight Northwestern goals were scored by Long Island natives (Smith 4, Mupo 2, Russo 1, Fitzgerald 1) while Brianne LoManto made eight critical saves in the cage.

    Stony Brook is just the second host school from the state of New York since the Championship's inception in 1982.

    Thornton Named a Tewaaraton Award Finalist
    One week after being voted the American Lacrosse Conference Player of the Year, Northwester junior defender Taylor Thornton (Dallas, Texas/Hockaday School) was named one of five finalists for the 2012 Tewaaraton Award, presented annually to the most outstanding performer in both men's and women's collegiate lacrosse. Thornton, whose contributions at both ends of the field make her one of the game's top all-around players, will be in attendance for the announcement of this year's winner at the Tewaaraton Award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 31. Thornton is the first Tewaaraton Award finalist -- men's or women's -- to hail from the state of Texas since the program's inception in 2001. Her fellow finalists for the honor are: Florida midfielder Brittany Dashiell, North Carolina attacker Becky Lynch, Maryland attacker Katie Schwarzmann and Syracuse attacker Michelle Tumolo.

    Thornton has only continued to bolster her candidacy in the postseason, most recently with four ground balls, three caused turnovers and her 30th goal of the season in a spectacular all-around effort vs. Duke in the NCAA quarterfinals.

    Smith Climbs Northwestern, NCAA Record Lists
    Senior attacker Shannon Smith has moved into impressive company on both the NU and NCAA career scoring lists. On Saturday against Duke, Smith surpassed former Wildcat great Kristen Kjellman (2004-07) as the program's all-time leading goal-scorer, entering her final weekend of college lacrosse with 252. She also stands second on NU's career points list (354) and third in assists (102). Smith, who has started all 89 games in her career, also has a place on the NCAA all-time lists for both points (eighth, 354) and goals (ninth, 252).

    Record Book Rewrite
    The Northwestern Lacrosse record book continues to evolve thanks to the production of a few of the 2012 squad's veteran leaders, especially on the defensive end. Senior midfielder Alex Frank recently became just the second NU player to surpass 100 career caused turnovers and also is on the cusp of becoming the fourth ever to reach 200 career draw controls (198). Her classmate, Lacey Vigmostad, stands fourth in NU history in caused turnovers (83) and tied for seventh in ground balls (130), while Taylor Thornton -- who still has one full year remaining in her career -- already ranks eighth in draw controls (145), seventh in caused turnovers (71) and eighth in ground balls (130).

    'Breezey' Comes Home For Final Weekend of Play
    Senior goalkeeper Brianne LoManto will close out a stellar Northwestern career this weekend as she mans the cage in the Final Four for a third consecutive season. The Long Island native owns a career won-loss record of 60-6 and is in the midst of her finest season to date, leading the country in goals against average through the end of the regular season and carrying into play this weekend a mark of 7.23 goals allowed per game, the lowest in her three seasons as a starter. LoManto, who made several key saves from point blank range and on fast breaks in NU's championship game win over Maryland in 2011, turned in a similar performance in this year's quarterfinal win vs. Duke, recording eight saves compared to just seven goals against.


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