Northwestern throttles No. 8 Penn
Quakers commit five turnovers on first-five possesions
PHILADELPHIA -- Poised for another showdown with No. 8 Penn, No. 1 Northwestern dominated possession early and jumped to a quick 5-0 lead, holding on the rest of the way to win 14-6 on Sunday. The Quakers turned the ball over on their first-five offensive possessions and coughed the ball up a total of 16 times on the afternoon.
On the offensive end, Shannon Smith and Erin Fitzgerald each posted hat tricks, their seventh and fifth of the year, respectively. Smith moved into sole possession of second place on NU's all-time goals list and now has 231, 19 shy of matching Kristen Kjellman's school record of 250.
Taylor Thornton and Kara Mupo also came away with two-goal efforts while Casey Bocklet dished out two assists and now has a team-leading 16 on the season.
The Wildcats have won 10 of 11 meetings with Penn dating to 2005.
Fitzgerald opened the scoring for the Wildcats 2:35 into the game with a free-position goal, while NU held the majority of possession after unforced turnovers by the Quakers on their first two trips down the field. Following a third Penn turnover on a clear attempt, Thornton worked a swift dodge down the left of the fan and scored to make it 2-0, 10 minutes into the game.
Northwestern then received a textbook stick check and caused turnover from Alex Frank on defense, which led to a free position opportunity on the other end that Kat DeRonda finished for her sixth score of the year.
Another Penn turnover led to a spinning dodge through the middle by Ali Cassera, and she buried the sidearm shot to make it 4-0 and force a Quaker timeout. The break did little to stem Northwestern's momentum, with Shannon Smith coming from behind the net for an unassisted goal a little more than midway through the half.
Penn notched its first goal off the 8-meter four minutes later but continued to struggle maintaining possession and Northwestern worked the clock to under five minutes to go in the half. Amanda Macaluso then saw her opening on the left of the fan and scored despite being fouled to increase the Wildcat lead to 6-1. Smith netted her second of the day less than a minute later with a low scooping shot from the middle of the 8-meter area, and Northwestern held a six-goal lead with 3:49 before half.
After a second Penn free position goal, NU goalkeeper Brianne LoManto came up with two big saves to prevent the hosts from gaining momentum, and a perfectly executed offensive set resulted in Bocklet feeding Mupo for a goal with 35 second remaining before the break.
LoManto then stoned a point-blank shot by Penn's Erin Brennan in the waning seconds as the Wildcats took an 8-2 lead to the locker room.
Penn notched the first score of the second half only to have Fitzgerald respond with back-to-back 8-meter goals, securing her fifth hat trick of the year and a 10-3 Wildcats lead. Smith matched Fitzgerald's three-goal effort a few minutes later when Bocklet set up her from behind the cage.
With Northwestern continuing to work clock, Thornton created her own shot and scored for the second time with an aggressive left-side dodge, giving NU a 12-5 lead. After a Penn 8-meter score, Mupo put away a quickstick goal after a pass from behind the net by Alyssa Leonard. Kate Macdonald rounded out the scoring with 47 seconds remaining, her fourth goal of the year.
LoManto finished with five saves in a game in which Penn only mustered 11 shots. Northwestern also held a 21-11 advantage in ground balls for the day.