March 25, 2009

Nielsen Ties NCAA Assist Career Assist Mark

from press release

AMHERST, Mass. -- Senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) moved into a tie with Jen Adams for the NCAA all-time assist record, dishing out four assists and adding four goals as top-ranked Northwestern breezed past Massachusetts 22-5 at McGurik Stadium. The Wildcats improve to 10-0 on the season and extend their winning streak to 16 games while recording the 200th victory in the program's history. NU also improves to 7-1 all time against UMass (3-6).

Playing in front of nearly 1,000 fans in the first-ever night home game for the UMass women's lacrosse team, NU took control early, as a goal from sophomore Brooke Matthews (Baltimore, Md./Friends School) and a pair from freshman Shannon Smith (West Babylon, N.Y.) gave the `Cats a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. UMass would score two of the next three to cut the gap to 4-2 before the Wildcats began to flex their muscles, netting 11 unanswered goals to take a 15-2 lead into the half. Matthews, Smith and junior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) led the offensive charge with first half hat tricks, with senior Hilary Bowen (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) and Nielsen each adding a pair.

NU continued the pace in the second half, as behind a pair of goals from Nielsen, the Wildcats extended their lead to 16 at 20-4. Nielsen would add a pair of goals and added one more assist, dishing a pass to junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) with 12:43 remaining to up her career total to 178 and into a tie atop the record book with Adams.

11 different Wildcats netted goals in the balanced offensive attack, with Bowen adding a third in the second half to up the number of NU hat tricks to five on the night. Seniors Casey Donohoe (Jarrettsville, Md.) and Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood), sophomores Samantha Santulli (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) and Kim Pantages (North Caldwell, N.J./West Essex) and freshman Alexandra Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) also netted a goal in the Wildcat victory.

The Wildcats held a 39-18 shot advantage for the game, including a 22-9 edge in the first half. Northwestern also won 19 of the 29 draw controls for the game, with Spencer and Nielsen each snagging four and Alex Frank winning three.

Once again NU's defense was up to the task, holding the Minutewomen to just five goals on 18 shots and forced 14 UMass turnovers. The Wildcats' goalkeeping corps kept Massachusetts's shooters frustrated all night as senior Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./Hackley School) allowed just three goals and made five saves on the night, with sophomore Darby St. Clair-Barrie (Scituate, Mass./Brooks School) tying a career-best with two saves and freshman Brianne LoManto (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point) stopping a shot as well.

Nielsen continues to stake her claim to a second-straight Tewaaraton Trophy, as her eight points on the night ups her season total to 72, which is tops in the nation. She also leads the nation in assists with 37, and along with Bowen has notched at least one point in 54 consecutive games. With her three goals on the night, Bowen also extended her consecutive goals streak to 50 games, the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history.

Nielsen now sets her sights on becoming the NCAA's all-time assist leader as Northwestern returns to Lakeside Field for another three game home stand, beginning with fifth-ranked Duke Friday, April 3. The showdown with the Blue Devils, an NCAA semifinalist last season, is the Chipotle Big Game for the 2009 season, and opening draw is set for 7 p.m. The Wildcats then welcome California to Evanston for a 1 p.m. draw on Sunday, April 5.

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