April 15, 2012

Northwestern Starts, Finishes Strong to Beat Jays

from press release

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Scoring runs of six straight to open the game and five out of six to close it out were enough to propel top-ranked Northwestern past No. 19 Johns Hopkins, 16-12, in an exciting American Lacrosse Conference tilt Sunday at Lakeside Field. The Blue Jays staged an impressive comeback to tie the game at 11 with 20:39 to play, but freshman Casey Bocklet had a hand in NU's next three goals over a nine-minute span to help the hosts avoid defeat.

Johns Hopkins Game Highlights

Bocklet finished with a career-high tying four points while senior Shannon Smithcollected seven on three goals and four assists. Junior Erin Fitzgerald secured a hat trick in the first eight minutes of the game and finished with four goals on the day, while sophomore Kara Mupo also netted three goals in the win.Led by their success on the draw control, the Blue Jays scored 11 of their 12 goals in a span of 19:34 covering both sides of halftime. The run included two tallies in the final 23 seconds of the opening half, as well as a third just 10 seconds out of intermission.

"Our team is really a group of fighters and when we get down or the other team gets momentum we're going to do everything we can to get it back," Bocklet said. "Johns Hopkins played really hard on loose balls and draw controls but I thought we executed when we needed to and we're excited to come away with the win."

It was the third time in Johns Hopkins' last three trips to Evanston in which the outcome has been decided by four goals or fewer.

Facing a Blue Jays squad that had handed NU one of only two losses suffered during the 2011 season, Northwestern looked poised to win going away early on, with Smith setting up goals by Fitzgerald and Mupo sandwiched around a Fitzgerald 8-meter score to put the Wildcats ahead 3-0.

Fitzgerald then scored her 36th of the season on an unassisted goal just under eight minutes into the game, and Smith followed that with her own solo effort only 35 seconds later. With 13:03 to go before half, sophomore Kelly Rich made a great running feed from the top of the fan to a wide-open Smith on the doorstep, giving the Wildcats a 6-0 advantage.

By the time the Jays scored their first of the game on a free position goal, the Northwestern defense had completed a stretch of 49 minutes in which it allowed just one goal dating to the first half against North Carolina on Friday.

Rich then set the score at 7-1 when she went upstairs to snare a high feed from Amanda Macaluso and finished in front of the net for her seventh goal of the year. Johns Hopkins answered with two quick goals, but consecutive free position scores by Smith and Ali Cassera -- the second of which came with 33 seconds before halftime - restored a six-goal Wildcats advantage.

But the Blue Jays went on a tear from there, winning three straight draw controls and scoring fast-break goals on all three. Northwestern was able to execute its offense and set up consecutive goals by Mupo on its next two possessions, but Colleen McCaffrey scored two in a row to bring the NU lead back to three.

Hopkins continued to push the tempo and win draw controls, completing its 5-0 run to knot the score at 11 less than 10 minutes into the second half. Fitzgerald restored an NU lead 1:19 later off a feed from Bocklet, and Bocklet then got on the receiving end of a Smith pass from behind the net for her first goal of the game.

After Bocklet scored with a bouncing shot on the crease to make it 14-11, Kat DeRonda completed a remarkable solo effort, battling traffic in the fan and losing the ball momentarily before regaining possession and burying her shot to make it 15-11 with 7:46 to play.

Junior Beatrice Conley added an 8-meter goal to round out NU's scoring and, on the ensuing draw control, Taylor Thornton fought tenaciously to regain possession among several Blue Jay defenders and return control of the ball to the Wildcats.

Northwestern surrendered only one goal in the final 20 minutes of the game, holding on to improve to 78-1 at home since the start of 2005. Senior goalkeeper Brianne LoManto stopped six shots and now stands one shy of 400 saves for her career.

Sophomore Alyssa Leonard won five draw controls for the second straight outing and junior Gabriella Flibotte set a career high with four as NU and JHU finished tied at 15 apiece off the circle for the game. Senior Alex Frank recorded a trio of caused turnovers and now has 95 for her career.

Northwestern's ALC schedule concludes on Saturday, April 21, when it hosts No. 5 Florida at Lakeside Field. Start time is set for 1 p.m. CT with the Big Ten Network providing tape delay coverage from Evanston.


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