December 12, 2011

LM's Best Women's Performance of 2011: Kerri Harrington in Title Game

by Clare Lochary |

Kerri Harrington limited Maryland's Sarah Mollison to zero points and two shots in the 2011 NCAA title game. It was the first time in 67 games Mollison didn't register a point.
© John Mecionis

Kerri Harrington made a splash in her first career start, marking Tewaaraton finalist Sarah Mollison in the NCAA championship game. Harrington held Mollison scoreless and to just two shots, as the Wildcats won 8-7. It was the first time in 67 games that Mollison failed to register a point.

Limiting Mollison was central to Northwestern's strategy to disrupt Maryland's powerful offense (14.65 goals per game). Not bad for a kid who watched the 2010 title game from the stands.

"It's not easy going up against Shannon Smith every day in practice, but I thought if I can handle Shannon, I can handle anyone," Harrington said. "I handled it with speed, and when she got the ball I just went back to the basics. I didn't panic. I knew I could also play 1-v-1 defense. I just forced her up to the left, and there was a slide there every time."

If she was so inclined, Harrington could even take credit for Shannon Smith's team-leading four goals in the championship. When asked about how she dealt with a faceguard from Terps top defender Katie Gallagher, Smith gave the credit to her rookie teammate.

"[Gallagher] is an unbelievable defender, but during my practices, I face it all the time," Smith said. "I practice the faceguard all the time against Kerri, so I think within all the games I've played, I was very prepared for any defense that was thrown at me."

For more on Harrington and the Northwestern-Maryland game, check out's coverage from May. Fan Vote, Best Women's Performance of 2011

Tatum Coffey, U.S. U19 Team
Coffey had two goals in Team USA's comeback win over the Aussies in the U19 championship game Aug. 13, but it was her play between the lines that earned her MVP honors. Coffey scooped up draw controls and ground balls at crucial moments.

Kerri Harrington, Northwestern
A year after watching from the stands as Maryland beat Northwestern for the NCAA championship, Harrington made her first career start on the same stage, guarding Sarah Mollison and holding her scoreless in the May 29 final, an 8-7 Wildcats win.

Shannon Smith, Northwestern
Smith led her team with four goals, including the game-winner, to hold off North Carolina, 11-10, in the NCAA semifinals May 27. With 18 seconds left, Smith split the defense near the crease to give herself a one-on-one shot and put the Wildcats in the championship game. The game-winner also set a program record for goals in a season (82), previously set by Hilary Bowen in 2008.

Kitty Cullen, Florida

Cullen, The ALC Player of the Year had six goals in the Gators' 13-11 upset of the Wildcats on April 14. It was the first loss for Northwestern since the 2010 NCAA championship, and its first ALC loss since 2004.

A version of this article appears in the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine as part of LM"s "Best of Lacrosse 2011" package. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 350,000-plus members today to start your monthly subscription.

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