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

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Lacrosse Notebook: Cats chew clock in second half, don’t let Tar Heels rally late

TOWSON, Md. – Coming from behind against an offensive juggernaut like Northwestern is hard enough. For North Carolina, that task was made more difficult by the Wildcats’ second-half stalling.

While statistics are not kept for time of possession in lacrosse, NU held onto the ball for the majority of the game’s final 15 minutes, often for two or three minutes at a time.

“You have a great game going on and all of a sudden a team pulls out and stalls for the last 15 minutes of the game,” North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said. “It’s not good for the sport, and I would love to see it changed.”

Thanks to senior Danielle Spencer’s six second-half draw controls, the Cats had an advantage in the possession battle.

“With them winning the draw, it was definitely hard coming down and them running a stall for a couple of minutes, having to play defense and then get back on offense,” North Carolina attacker Corey Donohoe said.

With North Carolina’s best defender, Kristen Carr, going one-on-one with Spencer the entire game, the Tar Heels couldn’t apply much pressure on whoever settled behind the net for NU. Senior Katrina Dowd, junior Brooke Matthews and freshman Erin Fitzgerald each scored after stalling behind the goal.

When the Tar Heels finally did pressure the Cats behind the cage, NU took advantage of the open attackers.

“Unfortunately our rules allow stalling with the ball-which is part of the rules and we all use it-and once we had to start to extend out it did open up the lead for Northwestern,” Levy said.

Not only did the Cats’ stalling open up their offense; it kept the Tar Heels attackers from getting in a rhythm.

“It was really hard to get momentum when the other team possesses the ball so much and then it comes on your side for a few seconds” Donohoe said.

Levy remembers watching the Maryland-Princeton national championship contest in 1994, when Princeton spent much of the second half stalling en route to a 10-7 victory.

“In 1994, I felt like the stall needed to go away, and I still today feel that the stall game should go away,” Levy said.

As chair of the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association rules committee from 2000-06, Levy advocated an anti-stall rule. And because no action has been taken on that front, Levy said NU coach Kelly Amonte Hiller is not to blame.

“If we want our sport to continue to grow, and want attention by media and (want to) be on TV, we need to put the game where we can play up and down,” she said. “That’s not a slight on Northwestern, that’s part of the rules, and I would do the same exact thing they did.”

The Cats may have taken the stalling approach as a reaction to last year’s semifinal game against Pennsylvania. In that contest, NU held an 11-7 lead with 10 minutes remaining but let the Quakers rally and score four unanswered goals to force overtime.

“We knew we had control of the game, but we knew we needed to be extremely focused,” Amonte Hiller said. “Our girls learned a little bit of a lesson last year but we’ve had some close games this year as well-we went overtime against Virginia and our Syracuse game was very close. We’ve felt that pressure and the players were ready for it.”

DRAW DOMINANCE

Going up against 6-foot-2 Danielle Spencer in the center circle can be a tall task. North Carolina’s draw control specialists found that out the hard way Friday, as Spencer grabbed eight draw controls, one fewer than the Tar Heels collected as a team.

“She kept drawing to herself, when it went to the outside we had a good 50-50,” North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said. “It was hard to get the ball on the ground because she’s 6-foot-2 and then she grabbed it with her stick that seemed to be an endless deep hole. We just couldn’t get it out of her stick.”

Spencer, whose 105 draw controls on the season has already shattered Northwestern’s single-season record of 91, became just the fourth player in NCAA history to notch more than 100 controls in one year. Despite her record-breaking performance, Spencer said she didn’t change her approach Friday.

“I didn’t try anything different tactically, I just had a little bit more success (on the draw),” Spencer said. “Draws were definitely a main focus for us tonight, so anything I can do for the team, and if it comes to draw controls and I’m taking the draw, I just want to do everything I can so that we can gain possession.”

In her first three seasons in Evanston, Spencer compiled 93 draw controls. Spencer now has 198 for her career. Going into Sunday’s national championship contest against Maryland the attacker needs four to surpass Courtney Koester for second on NU’s all-time list.

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Lacrosse Notebook: Cats chew clock in second half, don’t let Tar Heels rally late