March 31, 2012

Northwestern Rallies to Force OT, Beats Ohio State at Gillette

Taylor Thornton has nine draw controls, four more than her previous single-game high.
© Bill Danielewski 

from press release

FOXBORO, Mass. -- In the first-ever women's collegiate sporting event at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., Northwestern rallied from a four-goal deficit in the second half and eventually prevailed in overtime, defeating 14th-ranked Ohio State, 13-12.

The Wildcats (10-0) were on the brink of defeat before Erin Fitzgerald scored her fifth goal of the day on an 8-meter attempt with 19 seconds remaining to force the extra session.

Fitzgerald's five goals tie her previous single-game best while her six points marked a career high for the junior from Mt. Sinai, N.Y.

After a see-saw first half in which neither team led by more than one goal, Ohio State gained momentum by scoring five of the first six goals out of halftime, going up 11-7 with 19:41 to play.

NU finally broke out of its offensive slump when Shannon Smith scored for the first time with 14:47 remaining, beginning a run of six straight Northwestern goals that carried into overtime.

Northwestern's defense helped fuel the second-half rally, with Alex Frank -- a native of nearby Westwood, Mass. -- coming away with four caused turnovers, three ground balls and three draw controls.

Junior Taylor Thornton also stepped up with nine draw controls, four more than her previous single-game high.

NU senior netminder Brianne LoManto stopped eight Buckeye shots -- including several key saves during the Wildcat comeback -- while her counterpart for OSU, Tori DeScenza, came up huge for Ohio State with 16 saves in the loss.

After an early Ohio State goal, Northwestern got on the board after a yellow card was assessed to DeScenza and Fitzgerald fired home the resulting free position opportunity to an empty net. Thornton made it two 8-meter goals in a row a few minutes later, but Ohio State responded by scoring the next two to seize a 3-2 lead.

Northwestern squared the score at three when two sophomores connected on a stellar goal, with Kat DeRonda setting up a Kara Mupo quickstick goal for Mupo's 18th tally of the year. After a Jackie Cifarelli goal for the Buckeyes, Fitzgerald dodged hard down the center of the fan and fired home her 23rd score of the season. No. 24 for Fitzgerald came two minutes later on another unassisted effort, but the Buckeyes scored the next two to regain the upper hand.

A second Mupo score with four minutes remaining sent the game into halftime deadlocked at six.

Ohio State netted the first two goals out of the break to gain momentum, but a Fitzgerald free-position attempt led to Mupo's third goal of the afternoon. Ohio State countered when Gabby Capuzzi picked up her fourth goal of the game at the 25:07 mark, and OSU continued to find success on offense when it took a four-goal lead, 11-7, with 19:41 to play.

Shannon Smith's first goal of the day cut NU's deficit to three with 14:47 remaining, but Ohio State continued to capitalize off turnovers and maintain possession as the clock ticked under 10 minutes to play. The tide began to change in NU's favor when DeRonda and Fitzgerald scored unassisted goals 59 seconds apart to cut Ohio State's lead to one at 11-10, but the Buckeyes kept the 'Cats at bay by possessing the ball almost for the entirety of the next eight minutes.

Finally, the Wildcats capitalized on an errant Buckeye turnover, with Lacey Vigmostad scooping up the ground ball for NU. Moments later, Fitzgerald earned a free position attempt and, after not one but two more Buckeye fouls off her 8-meter tries, the third time was a charm as Fitzgerald scored with 19 seconds left to force OT.

Smith came up with a goal 54 seconds into overtime and then gave Northwestern a two-goal cushion when she took a feed on the doorstep off a remarkable setup by Casey Bocklet. The final three minutes of the game were marred by three Ohio State yellow cards and several meetings of the officials on a disputed offside call against OSU, but in the end Northwestern staved off Ohio State's last-ditch efforts to tie the score.


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