May 2, 2010

Courtesy of Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Trailing fourth-ranked Virginia 8-7 with 7:31 remaining in the game and a lightning storm threatening to prohibit the contest from finishing, Northwestern vowed to take advantage of whatever opportunity it would have on a stormy Friday night at the lake front.

The Wildcats did just that, as senior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) notched the equalizer with 50 seconds remaining to force overtime, then senior Katrina Dowd (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) registered a pair of goals in the extra session as the Wildcats rally past the Cavaliers 11-8 at Lakeside Field.

Dowd again stepped up with the most on the line, recording four goals and adding an assist with four draw controls and a pair of caused turnovers. She was complimented on the offensive attack by sophomore Shannon Smith's (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) four goals as Northwestern improved to 14-1 on the year. Sophomore Alexandra Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) and freshman Erin Fitzgerald (Mt. Sinai, N.Y./Mt. Sinai) added goals on the night for the 'Cats.

After the 58-minute rain delay forced both teams to the locker rooms, Northwestern came out firing over the final seven minutes, putting five shots on the Virginia (13-5) goal trying to rally from the deficit, but were kept off the board thanks to three saves from Lauren Benner. The Cavaliers had possession, but a turnover in its own end led to a Wildcat fast break, capped by the Spencer goal with 50 seconds remaining.

Virginia won the ensuing draw and looked for the game-winner, but a forced turnover by freshman Amanda Macaluso (Smithtown, N.Y./Hauppauge) gave the Wildcats possession and one last opportunity to win the game in regulation. That opportunity nearly came as Fitzgerald's shot with two seconds left hit the post, sending the contest into overtime.

But the first overtime period belonged to the Wildcats, as after winning the draw, Dowd capitalized by netting her third of the game with 1:42 remaining. She then took the draw and beat Benner once again just 56 seconds later to give Northwestern the 10-8 lead. One more draw control win for the Wildcats resulted in Smith's final goal of the game with just nine seconds remaining in the opening period, giving the 'Cats their biggest lead of the game at 11-8.

Virginia had a chance to cut into that deficit in the second overtime period, but a save from sophomore Brianne LoManto (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point) slammed the door on the Cavalier comeback as the Wildcats were able to run the remainder of time off the clock to ensure the victory. LoManto finished with six saves on the night, upping her season total to 107.

It was a fitting end to an extremely competitive game which saw seven ties and six lead changes, the majority of which occurred in the second half. Northwestern led 3-2 at halftime, thanks to a pair of goals from Smith and another from Fitzgerald with four seconds left on the clock.

The Wildcats would extend its lead to two at 4-2 early in the second, only to see the Cavaliers rattle off three of their own to take a 5-4 lead with 19:03 remaining. Goals from Dowd and Smith reclaimed the lead for Northwestern at 6-5, but Virginia would score three of the next four to stake an 8-7 lead before a lightning storm forced the nearly hour-long delay.

Northwestern held a 32-21 edge in shots for the game while also holding a slim advantage in both ground balls (22-20) and draw controls (13-10).
The Wildcats also forced 18 Virginia turnovers, led by three caused turnovers each from Frank and freshman Taylor Thornton (Dallas, Texas/Hockaday School).

The highlight of the Cavaliers' night was the play of Benner, who recorded 13 saves between the pipes. Julie Gardner, Charlie Finnigan and Kaitlin Duff each had a pair of goals on the night for Virginia with Gardner and Finnigan each adding an assist as well.

Northwestern now closes out the 2010 regular season Sunday afternoon when it welcomes American Lacrosse Conference newcomer Florida to Lakeside Field for a 1 p.m. opening draw. The game against the Gators will also mark Senior Day, as the five Wildcat seniors will be honored prior to the game.