April 18, 2009

Courtesy of Northwestern

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) solidified her position as perhaps the greatest Wildcat of all-time, netting three goals and adding five assists to become the program's all-time point leader in pacing the top-ranked Wildcats to a 16-7 victory over Johns Hopkins Friday evening.

The Wildcats improve to 14-0 on the year and 3-0 in American Lacrosse Conference play, keeping a pair of impressive streaks alive. The victory was the 20th-straight for Northwestern, who tied Delaware for the NCAA record by recording its 26th consecutive conference victory. NU improves to 8-2 all-time against Hopkins (5-10, 0-3), upping its win streak to seven over the Blue Jays.

Playing in front of over 1,000 fans at Homewood Field and a national ESPNU audience, the Wildcats made sure they made their mark early, notching the first seven goals of the contest to take a 7-0 lead into the halftime break. Junior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) and senior Meredith Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) led the way with a pair of goals each in the opening stanza.

Nielsen added a goal and three assists in the opening 30 minutes as well, with senior Casey Donohoe (Jarrettsville, Md./Notre Dame Prep) and freshman Shannon Smith (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) also finding the back of the net.

The attack continued into the second with Nielsen feeding Frank with 20:13 remaining for her 50th assist of the season, becoming the first player in Division I history to record 50 or more assists in three different seasons. Nielsen added an unassisted goal a minute later to push the NU lead to 9-0.

Johns Hopkins finally got on the board with just over 17 minutes remaining in the contest, but the Wildcat attack wasn't done, as goals from sophomore Samantha Santulli (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) and Frank gave the Wildcats an 11-1 lead.

Dowd would add her third of the night to push `Cats advantage to 12-2 before five late unanswered goals from the Blue Jays trimmed the gap to 12-7 with four minutes to play, forcing the NU starters to take off their warm-ups. Nielsen's third goal of the game and Dowd's fourth upped the lead to 14-7, with senior Meghan Plunkett (Towson, Md./Maryvale Prep) notching her first of the season to seal the victory. Dowd would strike one last time, finishing with a career-best five goals on the night.

With her eight points on the night, Nielsen surpassed fellow Tewaaraton Trophy winner Kristen Kjellman as the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer. Nielsen has 353 points (161G, 192A), moving past Kjellman's 349 into sole possession of first place. She continues to lead the nation in points (97) and assists (51), and has recorded at least one point in 58 consecutive games.

Senior goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./Hackley School) recorded a personal milestone on the evening as well, stopping a shot from Hopkins' Candace Rossi early in the second half for the 500th of her career. Lathrop finished the night with four saves, upping her career total to 501, while allowing just three goals on the evening. She now needs just 26 saves to pass Ashley Gersuk as NU's all-time save leader.

Up next for Northwestern is a showdown with 10th-ranked Virginia in Charlottesville on Sunday, April 19, at Klöckner Stadium. NU is 3-5 all-time against the Cavaliers, who began the season ranked second in the preseason polls, as Sunday's meeting marks the first regular season game between the two since 1991. The Wildcats are 2-1 against UVA under Kelly Amonte Hiller, as the last two meetings were in the 2005 and 2007 national championship games. Opening draw is set for 11 a.m. Central and can be seen live at ACCSelect.com.