Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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TOWSON, Md. – After struggling for much of the NCAA tournament, Morgan Lathrop returned to All-American form with Northwestern’s fourth national title on the line.

The Wildcats avenged their only loss of the season and won their fourth-straight national championship in the process, defeating Penn 10-6.

In front of an NCAA-record 6125 fans in attendance, Lathrop recorded a season-high 11 saves.

Without a go-to scorer stepping up in the first half, Lathrop held Penn to just two goals on seven shots, including a gorgeous save at the buzzer.

Just before time expired, Penn’s Rachel Manson was fouled and given a free position shot to go one-on-one against Lathrop.

Unfortunately for the Quakers (17-2), Lathrop deflected the shot to give the Cats (21-1) a 5-2 lead going into the break.

“We knew that Penn never gives up and were coming at us hard late in the half,” she said. “I was really focused on stopping them to keep them from getting any momentum going into the half.”

The Cats worked hard to break the brick wall that was Penn goalie Sarah Waxman, who led the country with a 6.05 goals-against-average.

Penn scored the first goal of the game when Ali DeLuca beat Lathrop, and it took NU almost five minutes to equalize the score.

With Hilary Bowen, who scored six goals in Friday’s semifinal win over Syracuse, limited to just one goal in the first half, her teammates picked up the slack to keep NU in the lead.

Five Cats scored in the first period before Bowen came into her own in the second half.

The junior from Rochester, N.Y., scored three goals in the game, tying Delaware’s Karen Emas’ 1984 record for goals in one NCAA tournament with 17. The Cats made a comeback tough for Penn by scoring three goals in 92 seconds, including a rare tally for senior defender and captain Christy Finch. The goal, which came in the final game of Finch’s illustrious NU career, was only the 10th of her career.

Finch’s play helped frustrate the Quakers, who were forced off their game on both sides of the ball. The Cats limited Penn to a season-low six goals, while the Quakers gave up a season-high 10 in the loss.

NU’s defense also helped stall a Penn comeback in the second half. The Cats didn’t score for 11 minutes and the Quakers cut NU’s lead to just two with 13:43 to play.

Though she did not have the same scoring prowess as her teammates, sophomore Katrina Dowd provided a valuable spark on both sides of the ball.

When Penn won the draw control after its sixth goal, Dowd forced a crucial turnover that allowed the momentum to shift in the Cats’ favor.

“Katrina has a knack for playing well in championship games,” NU coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “She is a very skilled defender and really stepped up for us tonight.”

The sophomore scored three goals in last year’s championship, including the game-winner.

Dowd’s play allowed junior Hannah Nielsen to end the Cats’ scoring drought and further demoralize Penn.

“We had the momentum, and then it started to shift,” Nielsen said. “We were in that awkward time where we couldn’t decide if we should stall or be aggressive on offense. I got the ball and managed to put it behind the goalie, and it really put the pressure on (Penn).”

Nielsen finished the game with three goals and three assists, giving her a total of 114 points on the season.

Because of Penn’s ability to come back, the Cats were careful to keep from celebrating until the time was just right.

“I didn’t feel like we were going to win until we had just about 20 seconds left,” Nielsen said. “I looked at the scoreboard and was like, ‘Wow, we’re winning,’ and it’s just amazing.”

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Read The DAILY’s live blog of the game here.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881