Northwestern Gets Back on Track with win over Vandy
from press release
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A 7-0 Northwestern run early in the second half allowed the top-ranked Wildcats to subdue Vanderbilt, 15-8, in their American Lacrosse Conference opener Sunday in Nashville. Senior attacker Amanda Macaluso sparked the 'Cats with career-bests of five points and three goals on the afternoon.
Junior Alyssa Leonard also set a career high with four goals and four points, while senior Taylor Thornton dominated the midfield all afternoon with five draw controls, four ground balls and a career-high five caused turnovers.
Right alongside Thornton in the midfield was fellow senior Gabriella Flibotte, who recorded one goal, four ground balls, four draw controls and four caused turnovers to aid the Wildcats cause.
With the win, Northwestern improved to 3-1 on the year heading into its 2013 home-opener, set for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6 against Boston College. NU head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller will be going for career win No. 200 after raising her all-time mark to 199-31 Sunday against Vanderbilt.
Freshman Christina Esposito chipped in the first two goals of her Wildcats career while senior Erin Fitzgerald also came up with a two-goal performance.
Macaluso opened the game's scoring 59 seconds into the contest when she worked her way from right to left across the fan, finishing with a southpaw shot past Vandy GK Chelsea Pasfield. After the Commodores answered on their first possession, Macaluso set up Leonard for a quickstick goal at the 26:44 mark.
Leonard made it back-to-back scores with a sidearm lefty shot from straightaway just over one minute later, a goal that was followed up by an Erin Fitzgerald solo effort that put the visitors in front, 4-1.
Pasfield helped keep the Commodores' deficit at three with five saves in the first 20 minutes, and Vanderbilt received a goal from Abby Wheeler at the 9:57 mark to cut NU's lead to two. Only 37 seconds later, however, Ali Cassera worked her way into the fan and scored her sixth goal of the season to set the count at 5-2 in the Wildcats' favor.
The waning minutes of the first half saw both teams struggle to maintain possession, but NU added to its lead with two goals in the final 60 seconds of the stanza. An offsides violation against Vanderbilt set up a Northwestern free position attempt, where Cassera fed Kelly Rich to make it 6-3 NU. Off the ensuing draw, Leonard bounced home her third goal of the game, and Bridget Bianco turned away a final Vandy 8-meter attempt to preserve a 7-3 Wildcats advantage at the break.
Once the second half began, Macaluso countered a Vanderbilt goal with her second tally of the day, and the Wildcats made it a five-goal game with Christina Esposito's 8-meter goal in a man-up situation. It was Esposito's first career goal for the Wildcats.
Those two scores proved to be the start of a 7-0 run that would break the game open for the Wildcats, one that included a goal and an assist from Macaluso as well as an unassisted left-handed goal by Fitzgerald that made it 12-4 Northwestern with 19 minutes to play.
Northwestern's defense continued to give the Commodores fits throughout the second half, suffocating Vandy on the ride and allowing only just three shots through the first 24 minutes of the period. On offense, Kat DeRonda created her own scoring opportunity for a goal while Esposito notched her second off the 8-meter arc, while freshman Nancy Dunbar later set up Leonard's fourth goal for her first career assist and the final NU score of the day.
The Wildcats finished with a 15-10 advantage in draw controls and won the ground ball battle by a 24-22 margin.
In addition to watching Amonte Hiller vie for win No. 200, Northwestern fans are invited to the 'Cats' 2013 home-opener (Wednesday, March 6) to help NU unveil its 2012 NCAA championship banner at Lakeside Field. Northwestern also will be welcoming back to Evanston a pair of former Wildcats in Acacia Walker and All-American midfielder Alex Frank, currently the head coach and assistant coach, respectively, at Boston College.