February 19, 2012

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Smith, Northwestern Wear Down Duke, 13-5

from press release

DURHAM, N.C. -- Battling the elements as well as a talented fifth-ranked Duke team, No. 1 Northwestern wore out its opponent in the second half on the way to a 13-5 victory Sunday at Koskinen Stadium in Durham. The Wildcats benefited from five goals by Shannon Smith -- including four in the first half -- and four more from junior Erin Fitzgerald in the win.

Smith's five-goal day moved her into sixth place all-time at NU with 196, surpassing Danielle Spencer's (2007-10) career total of 193.

Despite both teams tying with 10 draw control wins on the day, Northwestern won eight in the second half, allowing the Wildcats to outscore the Blue Devils 7-2 over the final 30 minutes.

"We were able to keep possession in the second half and really take some things away from Duke defensively," said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. "Shannon was huge for us in the early going and then once we were able to move the ball a little more, it really opened things up for other players."

Both goalkeepers made big saves on the opening possessions, with Duke's Mollie Mackler stopping a free position shot and NU senior Brianne LoManto turning away a point blank shot on the crease.

Smith rang her first shot of the game off the crossbar but broke through on her next attempt, beating her defender one-on-one and scoring top shelf at the 21:51 mark of the first half. Less than two minutes later, some high-pressure Wildcat defense led to Brooks Lawler feeding Fitzgerald for Northwestern's second tally.

The Blue Devils got on the board just over midway though the first half when Molly Quirke cut down the middle and finished a feed from behind the net. Northwestern's defense got back to its stingy ways after that, forcing several turnovers -- including one on a free position attempt by Duke -- and setting the stage for another Smith goal at the 4:15 mark.

Smith's fourth score came shortly after when Smith set a pick on the crease for Casey Bocklet, only to have Bocklet come free and feed Smith to make it 5-1 NU with under three minutes before the break.

But the hosts came alive with two quick goals late in the first half, reducing their deficit to 5-3 at the intermission.

Northwestern received a huge goal just over three minutes into the second stanza when sophomore Kate Macdonald took it on herself to dodge from the top of the fan and score to give NU a 6-3 lead.

That advantage grew to 7-3 after an Amanda Macaluso 8-meter goal and then 8-3 when Smith fed Fitzgerald from behind the net. Duke pulled one back off a free-position score by Maddy Morrissey with 16:50 to play

Both teams missed free position opportunities over the next two possessions, but the Wildcats struck next in transition when Fitzgerald took a pass from Kat DeRonda and beat Mackler to set the score at 9-4. Smith made it a six-goal lead with her fifth of the game, a one-timer finish on the doorstep that was set up by Gabriella Flibotte.

Some hot goalkeeping by Duke's Mollie Mackler helped keep the game from getting away from the Blue Devils entirely, and Quirke scored with six minutes remaining to make it 10-5. But an impressive solo effort by Fitzgerald on her next goal and late tallies by Alyssa Leonard and Lacey Vigmostad kept Duke from ever threatening down the stretch.

Juniors Taylor Thornton and Ali Cassera each came up big with four ground balls in the NU midfield, while Thornton added two caused turnovers.


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