Feb. 18, 2009

Courtesy of Northwestern

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Behind a school-record 10 assists from senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) and five goals from both senior Hilary Bowen (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) and junior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton), top- ranked Northwestern breezed past Duquesne 20-6 at Rooney Field. The Wildcats improve to 2-0 on the season and are now 4-0 all-time against the Dukes.

Northwestern came out of the gates quickly, taking a 3-0 advantage with just over two minutes gone, thanks to a pair of goals by Spencer and another from Bowen. A Duke goal narrowed the gap to 3-1 a minute later, but the ‘Cats quickly erased any doubt, reeling off 12-straight goals to take a 15-1 lead into the half.

 Bowen and Spencer each tallied four goals in the first half, with all four of Spencer’s coming unassisted. Nielsen had six of her career-best 10 assists in the opening half, dishing out three to Bowen, two to senior Casey Donohoe (Jarretsville, Md./Notre Dame Prep) and another to junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown).

It was more of the same in the second half for the Wildcats, scoring five of the first six goals and pushing their lead to 18 at 20-2. Donohoe finished with four goals on the afternoon, tying a personal-best. Nielsen and Dowd added a pair of goals with senior Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) and freshman Shannon Smith (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) also finding the back of the net.

Nielsen’s 10 assists is both a new program and personal-best, surpassing the seven she had against Hofstra in 2007. She ups her career total to 153, moving past Johns Hopkins’
Mary Key into second-place on the all-time NCAA assist list and now sets her sights on fellow Australian Jen Adams’ record 178. Nielsen’s 12-point performance is tied for the second-best outing in program history, as she now has 273 points in her NU career, moving past current assistant coach Lindsey Munday into third on the Wildcat record books.

Both Nielsen and Bowen continued their impressive streaks as well, with Bowen now tallying at least one goal in 42-straight games, and the duo have notched at least one point in 46-consecutive contests.

Defensively NU continued its dominating play, holding Duquesne to just 12 shots on the afternoon while forcing 16 Duke turnovers. Senior Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./The Hackley School) allowed just one goal in 42 minutes of play while also recording a save on the afternoon.

The Wildcats earn the victory despite the absence of head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, who was in Boston with her ailing father.

Northwestern now begins a grueling four-game road trip against ranked opponents, beginning with 11th-ranked Notre Dame Friday, Feb. 20, in South Bend, Ind. The ‘Cats and Irish met twice last season, both times in Evanston, the latter a 15-7 NU victory in the NCAA first round. Opening draw is scheduled for 6 p.m. Central time at the Loftus Sports Center.