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Lacrosse: Northwestern stuns Johns Hopkins after controversial buzzer beater

Sheila+Nesselbush+races+up+the+field.+The+junior+midfielder+scored+a+dramatic+goal+to+send+Thursday%E2%80%99s+game+to+overtime%2C+which+the+Wildcats+eventually+won.
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Lacrosse: Northwestern stuns Johns Hopkins after controversial buzzer beater

Sheila Nesselbush races up the field. The junior midfielder scored a dramatic goal to send Thursday’s game to overtime, which the Wildcats eventually won.

Sheila Nesselbush races up the field. The junior midfielder scored a dramatic goal to send Thursday’s game to overtime, which the Wildcats eventually won.

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Sheila Nesselbush races up the field. The junior midfielder scored a dramatic goal to send Thursday’s game to overtime, which the Wildcats eventually won.

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Sheila Nesselbush races up the field. The junior midfielder scored a dramatic goal to send Thursday’s game to overtime, which the Wildcats eventually won.

Ben Pope, Assistant Sports Editor

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Lacrosse


Sheila Nesselbush had spent all week practicing shooting from eight meters out.

Not with the game on the line, like it was with Northwestern trailing Johns Hopkins by a goal Thursday. Not with just 0.2 seconds on the clock, like there were under the lights. And not with a premature celebration by the opposing team afterward, like Johns Hopkins did.

But Nesselbush’s free-position shot still found the back of the net — as it had many times all week — and forced an overtime that the Wildcats (6-5, 2-0 Big Ten) eventually won 10-9 to cap off a thrilling game against the Blue Jays (8-4, 0-3) on Thursday at Martin Stadium.

“It’s actually funny that I was practicing in that situation,” the junior midfielder said. “I just knew I needed to shoot as quickly as I could, and I did.”

Fifty-nine seconds into sudden-death overtime, senior attacker Christina Esposito drew a hard foul while running into the Johns Hopkins defense and scored on the ensuing free position to win it for NU.

“That was just a normal play that we usually run,” Esposito said. “I saw an opening so I went in, and in our scouting report they foul pretty hard, so I went in and got the chance and got on the 8-meter (line) and just put it away.”

The goal was her third of the game and team-leading 29th of the season, but this, she said, was “definitely the best one.”

Esposito’s winner concluded a wild back-and-forth affair on a cold, misty night on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Cats appeared to be cruising after taking a 7-1 lead in the first half, but the Blue Jays stole the momentum and roared back to take a 9-8 advantage with 3 minutes to play.

The visitors then had possession with a chance to run out the clock, but NU sophomore defender Claire Quinn then instigated a strange sequence — she stole the ball, then false-started to turn it over, then stole it again — to give the Cats a chance to go the length of the field in 25 seconds to tie the game.

Nesselbush’s heroic play accomplished just that, but it seemed at first that it wouldn’t count. Referees initially ruled her goal to be after the clock expired, sending the Johns Hopkins’ bench into jubilation. NU coach Kelly Amonte Hiller rushed onto the field to dispute — she said she intended to point out that several seconds had incorrectly run off the clock during Quinn’s false start — but witnessed something else happening instead.

“My understanding was that one of the refs thought it maybe was no goal, but the other ref who had a little better vantage point came in and said it was a goal,” Amonte Hiller said. “I was basically just talking about the false start … (but) as soon as I saw them conference, I just walked away.”

The overturned call prompted a delayed celebration around Nesselbush and allowed the Cats to, minutes later, escape with a dramatic and controversial — yet undeniably official — win, their third in a row.

Outside of the late-game chaos, NU saw sophomore defender Nell Copeland score her first career goal and received a pair of first-half goals from senior midfielder Catie Ingrilli, as well as nine saves from sophomore goaltender Mallory Weisse.

“It’s big for this group to be in these tight situations and come up with a win,” Amonte Hiller said. “I don’t think we had our best second half, we were a little sporadic and things weren’t great, but to make plays when we needed to make plays — that was huge.”

Email: benjaminpope2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @benpope111

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