April 22, 2009

No. 1 Northwestern Drubs No. 14 Ohio State

from press release

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Junior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) netted a game-high five goals and junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) added a career-high seven points (4G, 3A) as top-ranked Northwestern used a dominant second half to defeat No. 14 Ohio State 18-10. With the win the Wildcats improve to 16-0 and clinch the American Lacrosse Conference regular season crown with a perfect 4-0 record as well as the number one seed in the conference tournament next weekend.

Dowd got the `Cats on the board first, opening the game with a free position goal at 27:03. After the Buckeyes (11-5, 2-2) tied the game at one less than two minutes later, Spencer and senior Meghan Plunkett (Towson, Md./Maryvale Prep) pushed the NU advantage to two at 3-1 with 22:34 remaining in the half.

But Ohio State showed why they are one of the most improved teams in the nation, reeling off four unanswered goals over a 10-minute span to take a 5-3 lead on the Wildcats.

Goals from freshman Shannon Smith (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) and Dowd evened the score at five with 8:48 to go in the opening half before the Buckeyes reclaimed the lead at 6-5 with 7:47 left. A pair of goals from Spencer gave the `Cats a 7-6 lead and it appeared they would take that momentum into the break, but OSU's Kelly Haggerty found the back of the net with four ticks left on the clock, sending the Wildcats into the break tied for the first time all season.

After a lackluster opening 30 minutes, Northwestern returned to form in the second. Dowd tallied the first goal of the second half just 50 seconds in, and after Ohio State pulled even one last time, the Wildcats began to finally take possession of the contest.

Northwestern would score seven of the next eight goals, led by a pair apiece from Smith and freshman Alexandra Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) to break the game open. Dowd, freshman Jessica Russo (Port Jefferson, N.Y./St. Anthony's) and sophomore Brooke Matthews (Baltimore, Md./Friends School) also netted goals during the Wildcat run.

The Buckeyes scored one last time to cut the gap to five at 15-10 with 10 minutes remaining, but two late goals from Spencer and another from Smith sealed the victory for NU, upping its ALC winning streak to 27 games and its overall winning streak to 22.

After being out shot 19-13 in the opening half, Northwestern responded by holding a 21-7 shot advantage in the second half, and won 20 of the 30 draw controls for the contest. Alex Frank had a monster night on the draw for the `Cats, winning a season-best eight draws, while senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) added five of her own.

Spencer's five goals ties a season best, while the four from Smith is a new personal best for the freshman. Alex Frank's two goals also sets a new personal high to go along with her three caused turnovers. Dowd's four tallies on the night ups her career total to 99, as she looks to become the fifth active Wildcat to tally 100 goals.

Nielsen had a relatively quiet night, going without a goal for the first time all season but dishing out three assists to up her consecutive point streak to 60 games. She sits at 198 career assists, needing just two more to become the first woman in Division I history to reach the 200-assist plateau.

One of the major players on the night for the Wildcats was goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./Hackley School), who recorded nine big saves on the night, including seven in the first half to keep the Buckeyes at bay. She also held Ohio State to just one goal on five free position attempts.

Northwestern clinches the number one seed in the ALC tournament next weekend in University Park, Pa., with a 4-0 conference mark, while the Buckeyes drop into a second-place tie with Vanderbilt at 2-2. Penn State sits fourth at 1-2 while Johns Hopkins is fifth at 0-3, with the Nittany Lions and Blue Jays squaring off Saturday.

The Wildcats close out the regular season this Saturday, April 25, with perhaps the NCAA's most intriguing game of the regular season. NU will host third-ranked and unbeaten Penn at 7 p.m. at Lakeside Field in a rematch of last year's national championship game. Northwestern has won 53 of its 54 games over the past two seasons, with the only loss coming at the hands of the Quakers in last year's regular season finale in Philadelphia.

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