Feb. 23, 2009

Courtesy of Northwestern

SOUTH BEND, Ind -- Senior Hilary Bowen (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) matched her career-best in both goals (six) and points (nine) in leading the top-ranked Wildcats to a convincing 21-5 over 11th-ranked Notre Dame at the Loftus Sports Center. Senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) had eight points and junior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) added seven of their own as Northwestern improves to 3-0 on the season and 8-2 all-time against the Irish.

The `Cats once again set the tone early, pouncing out to an early 5-0 lead behind a pair of goals from Bowen with Spencer, senior Casey Donohoe (Jarretsville, Md./Notre Dame Prep) and junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) finding the back of the net as well.

Notre Dame responded with a goal to cut the gap to 5-1 midway through the half, only to see Bowen take the game into her own stick. She would tally three-straight goals and assist on another as NU broke the contest open, scoring five goals in less than five minutes to claim a 10-1 advantage over the Irish. Freshman Lacey Vigmostad (Northport, N.Y./Northport) netted the first goal of her NU career with just over a minute remaining in the half, giving the Wildcats an 11-2 lead at the break.

But the reigning champions were far from done, upping their intensity and registering the first nine goals of the second half. After Bowen took control in the first half, Nielsen controlled the reigns in the second, notching a pair of goals and adding three more assists with Spencer adding two goals and an assist as well.

Seven different Wildcats tallied goals on the night, including the four from Nielsen and Spencer, three from Dowd and a pair from Donohoe. Sophomore Samantha Santulli (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) rounded out the scoring for NU with her first goal of the season.

NU's defense came through with another solid effort, lead by senior goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop's (Briarcliff, N.Y./The Hackley School) season-best eight saves. Lathrop allowed just three goals in over 50 minutes of work, including holding the Irish scoreless for nearly 26 minutes through the second half, while improving her save percentage to .611 on the year and her goals against average to 3.10. Sophomore Darby St. Clair-Barrie (Scituate, Mass./Brooks School) and freshman Brianne LoManto (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point) each added a save in relief.

Bowen finished with six goals and three assists on the evening, moving into fifth-place on the all-time NU assist list with 72, surpassing Sarah Albrecht's 71. She now has 252 career points to go along with her 180 goals, both of which also rank fifth all-time. Bowen also upped her consecutive goal streak to 43 games and her consecutive point streak to 47 along with Nielsen. She also led the team in draw controls with five on the night.

After setting an NCAA single-game record with 10 assists at Duquesne Tuesday, Nielsen followed it up with an impressive four goal, four assist performance against Notre Dame. She continues to draw closer to the all-time NCAA assist record with her career total now sitting at 157, needing just 22 more helpers to surpass Jen Adams as the all-time leader.

Spencer's three assists was a new personal best for the junior, and the seven points matched her career-best. She has also notched the game-winning goal in each of the last two outings for NU.

It was the second game Northwestern was without head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, who was in Boston with her family following the passing of her father Lewis on Tuesday. The `Cats dedicated this game to her and her father, who was an ardent supporter of the team, and each player wore a white wristband with the initials "LA" inscribed on it.

Northwestern continues its season-opening road trip Friday, Feb. 27, opening up its American Lacrosse Conference slate at 12th-ranked Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. The Wildcats then head to Chapel Hill, N.C. for a showdown with ninth-ranked North Carolina Sunday, March 1.