May 29, 2011

Smith Leads Strong Island Showing in Final

by Chris R. Vaccaro | | Live Blog Replay

Shannon Smith solidified her case for the Tewaaraton Award with a four-goal performance in Northwestern's 8-7 NCAA championship game victory over Maryland.

© John Mecionis

STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Long Island natives scored all eight goals in Northwestern's 8-7 NCAA Division I women's lacrosse national championship win over Maryland at Stony Brook University on Sunday.

Shannon Smith, who gained national recognition as a top high school player at West Babylon High School, roughly 30 miles away from Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, was responsible for four goals and solidified herself as the frontrunner for this year's Tewaaraton Trophy.

Smith, whose 30 NCAA tournament goals rank seventh all-time, was named tournament MVP, recording 18 goals and four assists this postseason. Her 128 points (86g, 42a) are the second highest total in school history. She's also scored at least once in 45 straight games.

A large contingent of the 8,011 fans in attendance were there to see Smith and her eight Long Island teammates raise the national title trophy yet again, something the Wildcats (21-2) have done six times since 2005.

Northwestern 8, Maryland 7

* Northwestern Blanks Mollison, Beats Maryland for NCAA Title

* Smith Leads Northwestern's Strong Island Showing in Final

* Facing Smith Daily Prepared Harrington for Maryland's Mollison

* Live Blog Replay

Smith, who scored the game-winning goal against North Carolina on Friday in the semifinals, was first introduced to Northwestern lacrosse as young girl who attended camps run by Wildcats coach Kelly Amonte Hiller on Long Island.

Besides her husband Scott, a volunteer assistant at Northwestern and a Long Island native, Smith has been one of her prized recruits from the area.

"Long Island is obviously a mecca for lacrosse," Hiller said. "The type of kid that comes out of here tends to like what we have to offer at Northwestern University. She was just like she is now. She was a terror. She could take over a game and make plays and make things happen. She had this will to win, and that's what made her an extremely attractive recruit."

Smith, a junior, scored two goals in the first half against Maryland (21-2). She opened the second half with a score at the 20:07 mark and gave the Wildcats an 8-6 lead with a goal at 4:36. That proved to be the game winner.

"It was difficult to guard her on the crease," said Maryland defender Katie Gallagher. "She's a good player, she's tough and she rolls hard. It was a challenge."

"It makes it that much more special to us playing in front of friends and family where they don't normally get to see you play," said Smith, who holds New York state scoring records with 729 points and 505 goals and has since started every game of her collegiate career. "The 29 of us worked extremely hard. It was an extremely fun journey."

After last year's loss to Maryland in the national championship, Smith and company vowed to never have that feeling again. She said it was a horrible experience feeling the pain losing creates.

That pain went away Sunday.

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