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

The Daily Northwestern

75° Evanston, IL
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

Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement

Lacrosse: Northwestern ‘heels’ its wound, kicks the tar out of North Carolina for title-game berth

TOWSON, Md. – One team stands between No. 2 Northwestern and a sixth straight national title: top-ranked Maryland.

The Wildcats topped North Carolina 15-10 on Friday evening at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md., in front of 8,762 fans, a U.S. women’s lacrosse single-game attendance record.

The Cats (20-1) avenged their only regular season loss, an 18-16_ьdefeat at the hands of the Tar Heels (17-3) in mid-April in Evanston. The game was a rematch of last year’s championship contest, a 21-7 NU victory.

This year’s semifinal game was a far cry from the teams’ contest last month, when the Tar Heels held star attacker Danielle Spencer scoreless. This time around, Spencer singlehandedly took North Carolina out of Friday’s game, collecting six draw controls and two goals in the final 30 minutes.

“I did a little gut-check re-evaluation after the loss,” Spencer said. “I decided I needed to make some changes in the practice setting for myself in terms of being more successful and being able to score goals.”

North Carolina coach Jenny Levy couldn’t help but rave about the_ь6-foot-2 faceoff specialist, who collected eight draw controls to bump her season total to 105. She is just the fourth player in NCAA history to eclipse the century mark.

“It’s hard to score goals when someone named Danielle Spencer dominates the draw on us,” Levy said. “That was pretty much the difference in the game.”

Friday’s first half also proved a stark contrast from the team’s previous two games, when the Cats and Tar Heels combined for 18 goals in the opening period of the 2009 NCAA Championship game and 24 goals in the first 30 minutes of their April 18 contest.

NU and North Carolina notched just four goals apiece before intermission Friday. But it wasn’t because the squads didn’t have opportunities; rather, strong play from both goalies and a combined 21_ьturnovers kept the score low.

The scoring picked up toward the end of the half, though, with three of the period’s eight goals coming in the last 27 seconds. The Tar Heels’ Megan Bosica slipped a shot over Brianne LoManto’s shoulder with 27_ьticks remaining, and 10 seconds later senior attacker Katrina Dowd responded with a behind-the-back score as she raced past the right side of the net. The Tar Heels got the last laugh, as Laura Zimmerman drilled a last-second shot past LoManto to tie the contest at four heading into the half.

With one game left in her career, Dowd needs to tickle the twine four more times to tie Hilary Bowen’s single-season record of 81 scores.

After the break, the Cats notched a pair of scores in the first two minutes and held on the rest of the way. NU utilized a balanced scoring attack to keep North Carolina on its heels. Spencer and freshman midfielder Erin Fitzgerald notched hat tricks, while senior midfielder Brooke Matthews, and sophomores Shannon Smith and Alex Frank buried two goals apiece.

NU outshot North Carolina 34-21 and kept the pressure cooking throughout the evening. And with Spencer dominating on the draw, the Cats maintained possession and burned the clock to keep their four-goal cushion.

At one point in the game, the teams combined to score 14 consecutive unassisted goals – The Tar Heels used long downfield passes for a quick-strike attack, while the Cats settled for one-on-one matchups.

Tar Heels defensive specialist Kristen Carr marked Spencer the entire game, and Carr prevented Spencer from getting inside the crease for most of the first half.

“(Carr’s) the best defender I’ve faced,” Spencer said. “She really gave me a tough time our first game.”

But this time, Spencer got the best of Carr, scoring two straight goals midway through the second, giving the Cats a 9-6 edge.

Now, Spencer and her four classmates will look to finish what they started and win their fourth title in four years.

If the national championship stakes aren’t high enough for NU’s final game of the season, Maryland also happens to be coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s alma mater. What’s more, the Terrapins are coached by Amonte Hiller’s former teammate Cathy Reese and hold the sport’s record for seven straight titles from 1995-2001.

“(Maryland) lost last year in the final four and I know from a player how that hurts,” Amonte Hiller said. “Both of our teams are athletic, have good draw people, and some really exciting players offensively, so I think it’s going to be a great matchup.”

The last time NU and Maryland met was in 2007, when this year’s seniors were freshmen. The Cats won that game 12-7 in Evanston.

The teams will meet Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

[email protected]

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Lacrosse: Northwestern ‘heels’ its wound, kicks the tar out of North Carolina for title-game berth