Northwestern Defends Women's Lacrosse Title
By Steve Jones
The Northwestern University women's lacrosse team won its second consecutive NCAA championship and seventh during the last eight years Sunday night, defeating Syracuse, 8-6, in Stony Brook, N.Y.
Northwestern trailed, 4-2, midway through the first half. But the Wildcats got three consecutive goals from junior Amanda Macaluso, freshman Casey Bocklet and senior Shannon Smith to take a 5-4 halftime lead. Northwestern increased its advantage to 6-4 when Smith scored at the 19:04 mark of the second half, but Syracuse (19-4) tied the game on goals by sophomore Alyssa Murray and junior Michelle Tumolo.
A Taylor Thornton goal with 9:55 remaining gave Northwestern the lead for good, and junior Erin Fitzgerald scored an insurance goal with less than six minutes to play.
During her final collegiate game, Smith led the Wildcats (21-2) with two goals and two assists. Coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller's club also got a pair of goals from Fitzgerald.
Northwestern advanced to the final with a 9-7 victory against Maryland May 25. The Terrapins, who finished at 19-4, held a one-goal halftime lead. But Northwestern won seven of eight second-half draw controls and outscored Maryland, 5-1, during the final 25 minutes to pull out the win.
Junior midfielder Katie Schwarzmann's free-position goal gave Maryland a 6-4 lead with 27:09 remaining. But Northwestern tallied the next four goals. The Wildcats tied the game on scores by Kara Mupo and Macaluso, then took the lead at 7-6 when senior defender Lacey Vigmostad scored with less than 20 minutes remaining. A Thornton score less than two minutes later completed the four-goal Wildcat run and boosted Northwestern's lead to 8-6.
Schwarzmann's third goal of the game, with 13:37 left to play, narrowed Maryland's deficit to 8-7, but a free-position goal by Thornton with 1:26 left spelled the end of the Terrapins' season.
Schwarzmann led the Terrapins with three goals, while senior midfielder Kristy Black added a goal and two assists. Thornton and Russo scored two goals each for Northwestern, who got four assists from Smith.
Friday's first game featured one of the greatest comebacks in Final Four history. Syracuse trailed top-seeded Florida, 13-8, with less than seven minutes to play, but rallied to edge the Gators, 14-13, during a double-overtime classic.
Senior midfielder Sarah Holden tied the game at 13 with just 30 seconds remaining during regulation, then sent Syracuse to its first national championship game when she put the game-winner past Florida goalie Mikey Meagher at the 2:02 mark of sudden-death overtime.
It appeared that Florida had won the game during the first overtime period. But officials negated junior attacker Gabi Wiegand's goal with 12 seconds remaining, because of an illegal stick ruling.
Florida midfielder Shannon Gilroy led all scorers with five goals and one assist, while Holden scored four times and Tumulo contributed three goals and two feeds for Syracuse. Murray added three goals and one assist for the Orange, who scored 10 second-half goals to force overtime.
Posted May 27, 2012