May 16, 2009

Bowen Starts; Northwestern Back in Final Four

from press release

EVANSTON, Ill. -- For the fifth-straight year, the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Final Four will have a large helping of purple as top-ranked Northwestern defeated seventh-ranked Princeton 16-9 at Lakeside Field to advance to the NCAA semifinals in Towson, Md. The Wildcats now set their sights on fourth-ranked Penn at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22, at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) had another huge statement game, matching her seven-goal performance from the opening round, while senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) dished out six assists.

"We're excited to make it back to the final four," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "We knew this would be a tough game against a very good Princeton team, and they definitely came out ready to play. We had a lot of different people step up today, and we're just excited to be going back."

Northwestern set the tone from the opening draw, as Dowd netted her first two goals of the afternoon with less than a minute burned off the game clock. After a Princeton (14-4) goal from Lizzy Drumm cut the gap to 2-1, the Wildcats reeled off the next three. Junior Danielle Spencer
(Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) and Dowd pushed the advantage to three, followed by a free position goal from senior Hilary Bowen (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton), who started the game just over a month after tearing the ACL in her left knee.

But the Tigers weren't going down without a fight, answering back with three goals off the stick of Drumm to cut the deficit to just one at 5-4 with 11:24 remaining in the half. Freshman Shannon Smith (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) and Spencer pushed the lead back to three before
Holly McGarvie got Princeton back to within two at 7-5 with 3:25 left in the opening half.

But losing at home is just something Northwestern doesn't do, and it wasn't about to send the seniors out with a loss in their final game in Evanston. Dowd netted her fourth of the game with 2:21 remaining, giving the Wildcats an 8-5 halftime edge. She then found the back of the net a
fifth time with 26:22 to go in the contest, sparking a six-goal NU burst that broke the game open.

Senior Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) scored twice during the run, with Dowd's sixth and Smith's second helping the Wildcats break the game open, holding a 13-5 lead with 12:48 left. A pair of Tiger goals were answered with goals from Spencer and Frank, and Dowd capped her
afternoon by scoring lucky number seven with 1:04 to go, punching the Wildcat's ticket for Towson in the process.

Through two games of the NCAA tournament, Dowd has scored 14 goals and is well within striking distance of the tournament's record of 17 goals, which was tied last year by Bowen. She continues to earn the title of "Miss May," as she seems to perform her best once the postseason rolls
around. Dowd leads the team with 67 goals on the year and upped her career total to 124.

With her six assists on the afternoon, Nielsen now has 75 on the year, breaking her previous single-season record of 69 in 2007. She has completed the Division I assist hat trick, holding the single-game (10), single-season (75) and career (216) records.

One area in which Northwestern dominated from the get-go was on the draws, with Spencer a major reason why. She won a career-best nine draw controls, with Nielsen adding five as the Wildcats finished with a 20-7 advantage for the game. Spencer also added three goals on the day,
bringing her career total to 127, which is one shy of tying Sarah Albrecht for 10th-place on the program's all-time list.

Defensively, NU was able to hold Princeton to just 16 shots on the day, with goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./Hackley School) recording five saves. The Wildcats pressured the Tigers into 18 turnovers, with Dowd, Nielsen and Frank each accounting for a pair of caused turnovers.

Along with Drumm, who finished with a team-high five goals, the bright spot on the day for Princeton was the play of goalkeeper Erin Tochihara, who kept the Tigers in the game with 14 saves, including nine in the first half.

With their 16 goals on the day, the Wildcats established a new program record with 373 on the year, surpassing the 361 scored by the 2007 team. NU also has 523 points on the year along with 150 assists, both of which are just shy of surpassing the program-best 529 points and 168 assists
set by the 2007 squad.

Three impressive streaks remained intact for Northwestern with the victory. The Wildcats have won 27 consecutive games, and increased their home winning streak to 54 games. The class of 2009 finished their home career with an overall record of 42-0, marking the second-consecutive NU
senior class to never lose a game in Evanston. NU has now won 18 consecutive NCAA tournament games and are 19-1 all-time in the postseason under Amonte Hiller.

Up next for Northwestern is yet another showdown with Penn - a team they have come to know all too well over the past few seasons. The Quakers outlasted Duke, notching the game-winning goal with five seconds remaining in overtime to best the Blue Devils 10-9. Friday's semifinal will mark the sixth meeting between the two teams in the last three years, and will be the third-straight year the teams have met in the final four. Opening draw is set for 5 p.m. Central at Johnny Unitas
Stadium in Towson, Md.

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