April 19, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) netted the game-winning goal with 1:31 remaining as top-ranked Northwestern outlasted 10th-ranked Virginia 11-10 at Klöckner Stadium. NU picks up its first-ever win in Charlottesville, improving to 15-0 on the year and upping its winning streak to 21 games.

The Wildcats pounced first, as goals from junior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) and senior Mary Kate Casey (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy) gave NU an early 2-0 lead with 26:23 to play in the opening half. But UVA answered with a pair of goals 19 seconds apart to knot the game at two.

Nielsen fed junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) for a goal at 21:35, putting the `Cats back on top 3-2, but the Cavaliers responded on senior day by netting four unanswered goals over a 15 minute span to take a 6-3 lead with 6:21 left in the first.

Spencer netted her second of the game with 5:24 remaining to cut the gap to 6-4, which was quickly complimented by Dowd's second of the game 47 seconds later. Senior Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) then forced a UVA turnover, scooping a shot past the goalkeeper with 1:25 remaining, knotting the game at six.

With momentum back on its side, Nielsen made sure NU would take it into the break, pushing a diving shot past the Cavalier goalkeeper with four seconds remaining to send the Wildcats into the locker room with a 7-6 advantage.

Virginia struck first in the second, tying the game for the fourth time with 27:48 to go before Nielsen fed Dowd yet again, giving NU the lead at 8-7 at 25:26. The assist gave Nielsen 100 points on the season as she becomes the first Wildcat in the program's history to tally 100 points in three different seasons.

After a Cavalier goal once again tied the game, senior Meghan Plunkett (Towson, Md./Maryvale Prep) notched her second goal in as many games to put the `Cats back on top 9-8 with 21:52 remaining. Nielsen then found a cutting Alexandra Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) less than two minutes later to push the advantage to two at 10-8.

But Virginia regained momentum with a pair of unanswered goals to tie the game once again, this time at 10 at the 8:30 mark. NU won the ensuing draw and controlled the tempo in the waning minutes before Nielsen scored the game-winner on a wrap-around.

The Cavaliers had one last chance to send the game into overtime, setting up for a free position shot with 13 seconds remaining, but the Virginia player jumped the whistle, giving the ball back to the Wildcats who ran out the clock.

Dowd lead the way with three goals on the afternoon, with Nielsen and Spencer adding a pair apiece. Nielsen added three assists as well, giving her 102 points on the season, and upping her consecutive point streak to 59 games. She continues to inch closer to becoming the sole member of the Division I 200 assist club, sitting at 195 for her career.

Northwestern closes out the 2009 regular season with a pair of home games, beginning with American Lacrosse Conference rival Ohio State on Wednesday, April 22 at 5 p.m. The game with the Buckeyes will determine who clinches the regular season ALC crown and the top seed in the conference tournament May 1-2. The Wildcats then host third-ranked Penn in a rematch of last season's national championship game on Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m. The showdown with the Quakers will also be NU's Senior Night as the class of 2009 will be honored prior to the game.