February 9, 2014

Northwestern Edges Virginia to Open 2014

from Press Releases

Northwestern Recap

ATLANTA -- Northwestern's 2014 season-opener will be hard to top in terms of excitement the rest of the year.

After trailing No. 8 Virginia at halftime and trading goals for most of the second half, Northwestern broke a 12-12 tie with 17 seconds left with senior Kate Macdonald converted an 8-meter goal to left the fourth-ranked Wildcats to a 13-12 victory Sunday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta.

The win was the eighth in a row for Northwestern against Virginia despite the Cavaliers' ability to enter halftime with a lead for a fourth consecutive time against the Wildcats.

Macdonald led all Wildcats scorers with three goals on the afternoon, with fellow seniors Alyssa Leonard and Kara Mupo joining sophomore Kaleigh Craig with two apiece.

Returning All-American goalkeeper Bridget Bianco deserves much of the credit for the Wildcats win, recording a career-best 14 saves to finish one shy of the Northwestern single-game record. Bianco's final save came on an excellent scoring opportunity for Virginia's Courtney Swan, keeping the score tied at 12 with 54 seconds left and setting up Northwestern's game-winning offensive possession.

Leonard also picked up where she left off last year in dominating the draw circle, notching 10 draw controls to raise her career total to 316 -- most among active Division I women's lacrosse players and fourth-most all-time.

Northwestern raced out of the gates in the first half, with sophomore Nancy Dunbar earning first-goal-of-the-year honors less than 90 seconds in when she cut down the right wing and beat goalkeeper Liz Colgan. Junior Blake McHugh and Macdonald then struck a minute apart as the Wildcats sped to a 3-0 advantage.

Virginia responded with a run of five straight scores over the next seven minute, a stretch that finally ended when senior Kat DeRondaput away an 8-meter attempt for her first goal of the season. With the Cavaliers later leading by a 7-5 margin, Leonard got on the scoresheet when she wrapped the crease and fired past Colgan at the 7:44 mark of the first half.

The Wildcats responded to their two-goal halftime deficit with another strong start to the half, notching the first four goals out of the locker room beginning with a Mupo free position score with 25:36 showing on the clock. Craig then sparked two goals in 31 seconds, first feeding Leonard around the cage and then going it alone for a goal that forced a Virginia timeout.

The Cavaliers regrouped and tallied three straight times before NU scored on a fast break out of a draw control, with Jess Carrollfeeding Christy Turner in front of the cage for a transition goal that tied things at 11.

Virginia would take one final lead at the 8:50 mark on a free position goal by Maddy Keeshan, but Mupo answered in short order with an unassisted goal at the 7:47 mark, pulling NU level at 12. Several big saves down the stretch by Bianco kept Virginia from regaining a lead, setting up Macdonald's last-minute heroics.

The Wildcats won the ensuing draw control but promptly turned it over to give Virginia one final chance to tie the game, but the Cavaliers returned the favor with a turnover to seal the outcome.

Both teams overcame some opening-day sloppiness, with Northwestern turning the ball over 14 times in the second half and 20 in the game. NU defenders Kerri Harrington and Haydyn Anigian each had a team-best three ground balls on the day.

Northwestern will have another tough ACC test in its next outing when it travels to the home field of Duke University for a Feb. 22 tilt.

Virginia Recap

KENNESAW, Ga. -- The No. 8 Virginia women's lacrosse team (0-1) opened the 2014 season falling 13-12 to No. 4 Northwestern (1-0) on Sunday (Feb. 9) in a neutral-site game at Kennesaw State University's Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.

The Wildcats' Kate Macdonald scored the game-winner off a free position shot with 16.7 seconds remaining in the game.

Senior Liza Blue (Butler, Md.) led Virginia with four goals. Junior Courtney Swan (Vero Beach, Fla.) had three goals with an assist while also winning five draws and picking up five ground balls.

Macdonald scored three goals to pace the Wildcats. Alyssa Leonard scored two goals and won 10 draws.

"It was a really exciting game to open with, one that could have gone either way, but obviously we came up on the short end of things," said Virginia head coach Julie Myers. "We have a lot to learn from it and we have a lot to feel good about. I really liked our energy. Liza Blue's four goals is a lot of goals against a good defense."

Northwestern opened the game winning the first three draws and scoring on its first three possessions, taking a 3-0 lead in the first 4:25 of the game. Virginia scored on its first possession, with senior Maddy Keeshan (Greenwich, Ct.) scoring on a feed from seniorAshlee Warner (Corning, N.Y.), the first of five-straight goals for the Cavaliers that put UVa up 5-3 with 18:47 remaining. With the two squads trading goals for the remainder of the half, Virginia took an 8-6 lead into the break.

Northwestern started the second half in a similar fashion to the first, scoring four-straight goals to take a 10-8 lead with 21:00 left in the game. A pair of goals from Blue flanking a Swan score put UVa back in the lead, 11-10, with 9:34 remaining. After Northwestern tied the game, Keeshan scored on a free position shot, her second goal of the game, to give Virginia a 12-11 lead. Northwestern retied the game a minute later.After 7:30 of deadlock, the game seemed destined to overtime when Macdonald drew the foul call to set up the game-winning free position goal.

Northwestern won the ensuing draw, but turned the ball over with 11 seconds left in the game. Virginia turned the ball back over on a long pass into the attack zone with two seconds remaining.

Virginia outshot Northwestern 18-9 in the second period and 36-23 overall in the game. The Cavaliers had 26 ground balls to the Wildcats 19, but Northwestern dominated on the draw controls with 18 to Virginia's nine. Northwestern holds a 9-5 edge in the series and has now won each of the last eight meetings.

The Cavaliers' home opener will be on Saturday, Feb. 15 when they host No. 9 Loyola at 1 p.m. at Klockner Stadium.

Single-game reserved seats are available for all women's home games for $7. Single-game general admission adult tickets for women's home games are $5, while youth (18 and under), seniors (60 and over), and UVa faculty and staff tickets are $4 each.

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