April 10, 2014

Northwestern Pulls Away from Vanderbilt

from Press Release

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Fifth-ranked Northwestern began a critical four-game homestand with flair Thursday evening, giving visiting Vanderbilt fits defensively en route to a 15-9 win in American Lacrosse Conference action at Lakeside Field. Seniors Alyssa Leonard (3g, 2a) and Kat DeRonda (4g, 1a) each established single-game career highs with five points apiece while sophomore Kaleigh Craig added to her team-leading goals total with three against the Commodores.

Leonard added eight draw controls in the game and sophomore Nancy Dunbar doubled her previous career best with four ground balls in the win.

Northwestern (9-3, 3-1 ALC) won its fifth straight game and defeated Vanderbilt for the 13th consecutive time dating to 2004.

The early stages of the matchup had all the makings of the type of low-scoring style Northwestern has grown accustomed to in recent weeks. A short-handed goal scored by Vanderbilt more than halfway through the opening period brought the score to a mere 2-2, but the Wildcats quickly caught fire at the attacking end.

DeRonda scored on a catch-and-shoot feed from Kara Mupo just over 90 seconds after that game-tying Commodores goal to restore a one-goal NU advantage. Three minutes later the Wildcats pushed the ball in transition to junior Jess Carroll, who sped past the Vanderbilt defense and scored her second of the season to make it 4-2 in favor of Northwestern.

Just one minute later, Leonard attacked the crease and briefly lost control of the ball before regaining possession and sneaking it past Vandy goalkeeper Maddie Kratz, and 34 seconds after that Leonard set up Mupo on an extra-man opportunity to cap a 4-0 Northwestern run.

After a pair of Vanderbilt goals cut the NU lead to two, Leonard scored for the second time despite having her shot partially blocked as it left her stick, and Craig scored unassisted with 1:05 left before halftime to put the Wildcats ahead 8-4 at the break.

Vandy struck first coming out of the intermission before a Craig goal -- again on a man-up chance -- kickstarted another 4-0 Wildcats spurt. Senior Christy Turner finished a feed from Kate Macdonald as she slashed to the cage in transition, and shortly after Macdonald went to work herself by dodging to her left hand and beating Kratz to put NO ahead, 11-5. DeRonda's free position goal at the 16:16 mark capped her second hat trick in three games and helped the 'Cats establish their largest lead to that point at 12-5.

Senior Kelly Rich would eventually round out the scoring for Northwestern on a pass from Mupo, who finished with three points on one goal and two assists.

Vanderbilt scored four goals on five shots in the opening half before goalkeeper Bridget Bianco with five second-half saves to slow the Vandy attack.

American Lacrosse Conference competition rolls on at Lakeside Field on Sunday (April 13) when Northwestern welcomes No. 13 Johns Hopkins to Evanston. Start time is scheduled for noon CT, but fans are encouraged to arrive early to receive a Northwestern Lacrosse beanie cap, which will be distributed to the first 500 fans in attendance courtesy of the Wildcats Lacrosse Booster Club.

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