April 13, 2009

Courtesy of Northwestern

*EVANSTON, Ill.* – Northwestern returned to American Lacrosse Conference play Sunday and didn’t miss a beat, roaring past 17th-ranked Penn State 17-6 at Lakeside Field. Senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) had seven points while junior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) added six as the top-ranked Wildcats improved to 13-0 on the year and 2-0 in conference play.

Northwestern improved to 9-4 all-time against the Nittany Lions, having won the last eight meetings. The victory on the lakefront also marked a pair of milestones, as NU won its 50th-consecutive home game, the first team in NCAA history to achieve the feat, and upped its conference winning streak to 25 games.

Penn State (6-7, 0-2), however, came out of the gates with upset on its mind as the Nittany Lions pounced out to a 3-0 lead with less than eight minutes gone in the game. But the early Penn State spark was quickly extinguished, as the Wildcats reeled off seven unanswered goals to take a 7-3 lead into the half, led by a pair of goals from junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown).

The surge continued into the second half as NU extended their goal streak to 10 behind a pair from Spencer and another from senior Mary Kate Casey (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy). Penn State cut the gap to 10-5 with a pair of goals less than a minute apart with 18 minutes to go, but the ‘Cats would notch seven of the final eight goals, including a pair each from Dowd, Nielsen and senior Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) to seal the victory.

Nielsen once again paced the Wildcat offensive attack, netting three goals and adding four assists to push her career total to an NCAA-best 187 and upping her career points to 345, only four shy of Kristen Kjellman for tops all-time in Northwestern history. She extended her consecutive point streak to 57 games and has a nation’s best 89 points (43G, 46A) through 13 games this season.

Spencer and Dowd each found the back of the net for times for Northwestern, as Spencer added a pair of helpers and Dowd added one of her own. Frank also added an assist to go along with her pair of goals, with sophomore Brooke Matthews (Baltimore, Md./Friends School) and freshman Jessica Russo (Port Jefferson, N.Y./St. Anthony’s) adding goals as well.

Northwestern’s defense once again stepped up, holding the Nittany Lions to just six goals on 20 shots. Senior goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./Hackley School) made eight saves on the day while allowing just six goals, although two of those goals game on empty-net free position shots after Lathrop was whistled for a foul. Frank also contributed on the defensive end, forcing three Nittany Lion turnovers, with senior Kristin McCandlish (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington) causing a pair of turnovers as well.

The Wildcats hit the road for the final time in the regular season, traveling to Baltimore to continue American Lacrosse Conference play at Johns Hopkins on Friday, April 17. The game will be televised live on CBS College Sports beginning at 6 p.m. Central time. NU then heads south to Charlottesville, Va., for a showdown with 10th-ranked Virginia at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 19.