March 19, 2011

Northwestern Downs W&M in Texas Showdown

from press release

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Playing in one of the world's best sporting venues, second-ranked Northwestern came up big in the Lone Star state, defeating 16th-ranked William & Mary 18-8 at Cowboys Stadium in the 2011 "Dallax" women's lacrosse event, sponsored by Shannon Smith continued her dominant play through the opening part of the season, finishing with four goals and four assists, while Brooke Matthews added four goals of her own in the Wildcat victory.

Nine different Wildcats found the back of the net on the evening with 11 'Cats recording points, led by Smith's eight points on the night. She upped her season point total to 48 (26 goals, 22 assists) through the first seven games, increasing her points per game average to 6.85. She registered four goals on five shots while also winning a pair of draw controls.

Matthews' four goals was a season high as she tallied the first score of the night for the Wildcats, then tallied three more in the second half to help Northwestern pull away from William and Mary. Kelly Rich also recorded a hat trick on the evening, recording all three of her goal in the first half and helping the Wildcats to a 10-point edge at the half.

A crowd of 2,235 lacrosse fans turned up to witness the first women's lacrosse game at Cowboys Stadium and they saw Northwestern race out to a commanding 3-0 lead within the first four minutes of the game courtesy of goals from Matthews, Rich and Erin Fitzgerald. After William & Mary got on the board to cut the gap to two at 3-1, Smith and Amanda Macaluso registered goals just over two minutes apart to extend the Wildcat advantage to four at 5-1.

The Tribe would cut into the lead once again at 5-2, but William & Mary's aspirations of an upset melted quicker than an ice cube in the Texas desert as the Wildcats would reel off the final seven goals of the opening half, including a pair from both Rich and Smith, taking a commanding 12-2 lead into halftime. Alex Frank, Kara Mupo and Kat DeRonda also registered goals during the run. Heading into intermission, Northwestern held a commanding 23-8 edge in shots.

Northwestern continued its run early in the second half as Matthews converted a perfect feed from Smith behind the cage to extend the lead to 13-2 with just over a minute burned off the clock. After a Tribe goal, Northwestern would record three of the next four goals, pulling out to a 12-goal advantage at 16-4, two of which came off the stick of Matthews and the third from Smith.

William & Mary would find an offensive spark of its own, outscoring Northwestern 4-2 over the final 11 minutes, but it was too little, too late as the Wildcats improved to 7-0 on the season and 5-0 against ranked opponents. Ali Cassera rounded out the goal scorers for NU while adding an assist with Fitzgerald notching a helper as well on the night. Jessica Russo had a pair of assists as well with Alyssa Leonard adding a helper to go along with a pair of draw controls.

The Wildcats once again held the advantage on the draw, holding the 16-12 advantage, highlighted by a game-high six draws for Frank. Cassera also joined Smith and Leonard with a pair of draw controls.

Defensively, Lacey Vigmostad had an impressive outing for Northwestern, causing three Tribe turnovers while scooping up four ground balls. Macaluso also had a pair of caused turnovers, notching three ground balls in the process. Between the pipes, Brianne LoManto finished with four saves on the night while Darby St. Clair-Barrie added a save of her own down the stretch.

The contest marked the first game between Northwestern and William & Mary since the 1991 season as the Tribe still holds a 4-3 advantage in the all-time series. Grace Golden led William & Mary with three goals and an assist on the night with Kyrstin Mackrides adding a pair of goals as well.

Northwestern will spend one more day practicing in the warm temperatures of north Texas before heading back to Evanston to prepare for a showdown with Syracuse on Wednesday, March 23. The Orange was one of the 2010 Final Four participants as the last time the two teams met, the Wildcats notched a late goal to earn a 13-12 victory in Syracuse last March. Opening draw at Lakeside Field is set for 7 p.m.

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