March 25, 2012

Northwestern Continues to Roll, Blasts Navy, 20-8

from press release

EVANSTON, Ill. -- A frenetic first seven minutes of action in which No. 1 Northwestern and Navy combined for seven goals gave way to a Wildcats rout the remainder of the game as NU defeated the visiting Midshipmen, 20-8, Sunday at Lakeside Field. Northwestern's trio of offensive leaders were too much for Navy to contain, with Shannon Smith scoring eight points on five goals and three assists while junior Erin Fitzgerald and sophomore Kara Mupoeach tied career highs with five points apiece.

Fitzgerald netted four goals for the second straight game while Mupo put up five goals in a game for the second time this season. Smith's five goals give her 220 in her career, good for third all-time at Northwestern ahead of Hilary Bowen's 219 from 2006-09.Northwestern recorded 43 shots as a team, six more than its previous single-game high set in the opener against Stanford on Feb. 10. Despite losing the draw control battle (17-13), the Wildcats controlled possession thanks to 21 Navy turnovers, 11 of which were caused by NU.

"I think the biggest thing was draw controls, we weren't doing a very good job on them in the beginning of the game at all," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "Navy's an unbelievable team, they work hard and have great basic fundamentals and they battle. After the timeout (called by Navy), we really turned it up on draw controls and on our defensive pressure the rest of the game. We were pleased at how we responded, we just need to make sure we do that from the start."

On the opening draw of the game, Navy turned a procedural whistle against Northwestern into a quick goal, as Jess Fellows was positioned by the Wildcat defense and scored on a breakaway just 20 seconds into the game. Smith responded for NU, scoring 43 seconds later and setting up Beatrice Conley shortly thereafter to give NU a 2-1 lead.

The two teams then scored three times in less than 90 seconds as Fellows and Navy's Loren Generi sandwiched goals around a Fitzgerald tally that was assisted on by Smith as the score remained deadlocked at three. But Fitzgerald scored back-to-back unassisted goals to give Northwestern a 5-3 lead and followed that by feeding Mupo for a goal at the 16:38 mark that put NU ahead, 6-4.

Fitzgerald made it five straight goals in which she had a hand when she took a pass from Jessica Russo and buried it just before the halfway point of the opening half, and junior Ali Cassera converted an 8-meter attempt three minutes later to give the Wildcats some breathing room and an 8-4 lead.

Mupo would score twice more before intermission and Smith created her second goal of the game coming off the crease as the Wildcats, who held Navy scoreless for the final 19 minutes of the opening half, took an 11-4 lead into the break.

The Mids broke out of their slump in a big way after halftime, scoring three of the first four goals in the second half to close to within five goals, 12-7, with 22 minutes remaining. From there it was all Northwestern, however, as a Mupo unassisted goal kicked off an 8-1 Wildcat run that closed the game.

Smith scored twice in a span of 1:41 as the NU lead grew to eight, and a spectacular solo effort by Taylor Thornton pushed the advantage to nine with 11:43 to go. Thornton dodged among several Navy defenders before firing a shot that found its way off both posts and into the cage for Thornton's 13th goal of the season.

Sophomore Alyssa Leonard, who led Northwestern with six draw controls on the game, also notched two late goals while Bocklet topped off the scoring with an unassisted goal with 37 seconds remaining.

Navy benefited from a formidable 13-save effort by goalkeeper Michelle Verbeeck, who entered the game with just over 11 minutes gone by in the first half and thwarted several quality Northwestern scoring chances.

The game pitted Amonte Hiller against her former mentor at the University of Maryland, eight-time national champion coach Cindy Timchal, who now directs the Navy program. Timchal also was the first head coach in Northwestern women's lacrosse history (1982-90) and on Sunday coached in Evanston for the first time since leaving the NU program 22 years ago. Amonte Hiller presented Timchal with a commemorative lacrosse stick in a special pregame ceremony to thank her for her contributions to the early days of Northwestern women's lacrosse.

Northwestern can now look ahead to a trip to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., home of the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, where the Wildcats will face ALC foe Ohio State on Saturday. Opening draw is set for 2 p.m. CT.

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