Leonard Sets NCAA Draws Record in Northwestern Win
from Press Release
|Northwestern's Alyssa Leonard holds the NCAA career draw controls record, set Tuesday evening against Michigan.|
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The first of many future meetings in women's lacrosse between Northwestern and Division I-newcomer Michigan was a fairly one-sided affair, with the eighth-ranked Wildcats (4-2, 1-1 ALC) scoring the first 10 goals and ultimately posting a 20-6 win at UM's Oosterbaan Field House in Ann Arbor.
But the game also provided a chance to mark a milestone in the career of one Wildcat who has performed at the top of her craft for nearly the entirety of her Northwestern career.
At the 13:47 mark of the first half, senior draw specialist and Tewaaraton Award candidate Alyssa Leonard etched her named in the NCAA women's lacrosse record books, becoming the all-time Division I leader in career draw controls. Leonard, who in her first three seasons at NU recorded 91, 90 and a school-record 125 draw controls, respectively, posted nine on Tuesday to reach 359 for her career -- bettering the previous mark of 353 set by Vermont's Kristen Millar (2006-09).
Leonard, a native of Bay Shore, N.Y., joins former Northwestern great Hannah Nielsen (2006-09) as Wildcats to own an NCAA career record; Nielsen dished out an NCAA-best 224 assists in her NU career, 46 more than her closest competitor.
"I heard people talking about it but I can't get wrapped up in numbers," Leonard said of her awareness of nearing the record. "Until I'm getting every single draw in every single game I [won't] be happy. My teammates, past and present, who I work with on draws every day deserve the credit for any success I have in games. It's a great accomplishment for now but in the long run, we haven't done anything as a team just yet so we have other things to get back to."
"We knew Alyssa was very talented when she came in but I think her competitiveness is really what drives her," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller.
Leonard also was one of five Wildcats to score at least three goals in the game, totaling four points on three goals and one assist. Sophomore Kaleigh Craig paced Northwestern with her career-best five points on four goals and one assist, while Kelly Rich, Kara Mupo and freshman Lydia Cassada all matched Leonard's four points on three goals and one assist.
Craig had a hand in the first two Northwestern goals, first dodging to her left hand and shooting high for a goal 50 seconds into the game, then feeding a pass across the goalmouth that landed in the stick of Kelly Rich for an easy finish.
Kara Mupo then followed Craig's lead, scoring on a free position before feeding a cutting Kat DeRonda on NU's next possession to establish a 4-0 lead with just over four minutes off the clock.
Leonard notched her first goal of the day when she wrapped the creased and bounced one past Michigan goalkeeper Allison Silber to make it 5-0, and goals in rapid succession by Craig and Kate Macdonald lifted the advantage to 7-0. Rich then netted her second off a free position feed by freshman Lydia Cassada, and Craig's third followed by Leonard's second provided Northwestern a 10-0 lead and a running clock.
Michigan's first goal of the day came at the 9:59 mark of the first half and proved to be the start of a 3-0 run by the Wolverines. Cassada put an end to the spurt with 42 seconds remaining in the half with a deft dodge through traffic in the arc, the first of her career-best three goals on the day.
After halftime, Leonard added to the Northwestern lead on NU's first possession when she scored on a dish by Rich, and Craig upped the score to 13-3 with her fourth unassisted goal of the game.
In all, Northwestern would score seven of the half's first eight goals to run its lead to 18-4 en route to the 20-6 victory. It was NU's second 20-goal outing of the year after topping Marquette, 20-5, on Feb. 25.
Junior goalkeeper Bridget Bianco recorded five saves in the cage before giving way to classmate Brooke Jones, who stopped two of the three shots she faced in her 10-plus minutes of action.
The win snapped NU's first two-game losing skid since April, 2011, and evened Northwestern's American Lacrosse Conference record at 1-1. Looking ahead, Northwestern will take a 12-day break from competition for winter quarter exams before a road trip that will bring the 'Cats to Syracuse (March 23) and the University of Massachusetts (March 25).
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