March 7, 2012

No. 1 Northwestern Runs Past Louisville

from press release

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- No. 1 Northwestern used its speed in the open field and spread the wealth offensively to spark its 16-7 road win at Louisville Wednesday evening, improving to 5-0 on the year in the process. Sophomore Kara Mupo led the Wildcats with a career-best five goals while three Northwestern goalkeepers combined to make 13 saves in the win.

"We worked hard this week on getting out on the fast break and our girls really committed to running hard up and down the field," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "We were able to put pressure on them defensively and create opportunities for ourselves. Kara (Mupo) is starting to get into a groove and when Louisville put pressure on Shannon (Smith) and Erin (Fitzgerald) I thought it opened things up for other players."

Smith, sophomore Kelly Rich and freshman Casey Bocklet each added two goals while sophomore Alyssa Leonard spurred the offense with seven draw control wins.In the opening four minutes, Northwestern turned its defense into offense to seize an early lead, with two caused turnovers leading to fast-break goals by Fitzgerald and Mupo to begin the scoring. After Louisville got on the board on its next possession, sophomore Kat DeRonda took the ensuing draw and sprinted the length of the field before putting away a high shot to make it 3-1 Wildcats.

The lead grew to three only moments later off an impressive solo effort by Mupo in front of the goal for her second goal of the game and the season. The Cardinals converted an 8-meter attempt at the 18:26 mark, but that score was answered on the next NU possession when Lacey Vigmostad fed a wide-open Bocklet on the circle for NU's fifth goal of the game.

Bocklet made it two in a row at the 13:44 mark when she curled the crease and beat Louisville goalie Danielle Pawliw, making it 6-2 Northwestern. With NU dominating on draw controls, Rich and junior Gabriella Flibotte each converted free position opportunities on NU's next two possessions as the 'Cats found themselves ahead, 8-2, with 10 minutes still to go in the half.

Taylor Thornton displayed her skill and athleticism on Louisville's next run at goal, causing a turnover outside her own crease, collecting the ground ball and taking it the distance for a Wildcat goal. Sophomore Kate Macdonald followed that with a dodge down the middle and left-handed shot that beat Pawliw to make it 10-2 in NU's favor.

NU senior goalie Brianne LoManto came up with two key saves in the next few minutes, the second on a Cardinal free-position attempt. The Wildcats then turned that momentum into a Mupo goal when Christy Turner fed her teammate off an 8-meter restart, giving NU an 11-2 advantage it would take into halftime.

The Wildcats continued to shut down the Cards defensively in the second half, keeping them scoreless for a stretch of more than 30 minutes of game action. Offensively, Smith made it a double-digit Wildcats lead with a solo effort with just over 22 minutes to go in the game.

A fourth Mupo tally and a Louisville goal preceded another Smith score as she came off the crease and finished with a shot to the far post, putting the Wildcats ahead 14-4, while late goals by Mupo and Rich accounted for all the Northwestern scoring.

After LoManto exited the game with seven saves in 41-plus minutes of action, freshman netminder Bridget Bianco came on in relief and made three saves, including one on a Louisville free position attempt. With 3:26 to go in the game, Bianco's classmate Brooke Jones went between the pipes for NU and recorded three more saves to close the game.

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