Northwestern Turns Tide on Cavs, Scores 11-6 Win
from press release
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Despite trailing at halftime for the third time in four games, No. 4 Northwestern took its first lead with 18:12 to play and dominated the second half to earn an 11-6 victory over No. 11 Virginia Sunday evening in Charlottesville. The Wildcats won their ninth straight contest and improved to 11-1 entering top-10 showdowns next weekend with Duke and Stanford in Evanston.
It marked the third straight meeting between the two schools in which Virginia led Northwestern at halftime only to have the Wildcats win the second half and come away with a victory. On Sunday, the Cavaliers held an early 4-1 advantage before the Wildcats reeled off eight of the game's next nine goals to earn the road win.
Senior Erin Fitzgerald led Northwestern's attack with her third consecutive hat trick, while fellow seniors Taylor Thornton and Amanda Macaluso each netted two to lead a group of seven Wildcat goal scorers.
Included in that group was Gabriella Flibotte, who also notched three caused turnovers to spark a second straight stellar defensive effort for NU. Junior Kerri Harrington eliminated the threat of former teammate and Virginia leading scorer Casey Bocklet, who recorded just one assist after entering the game with 31 goals and 15 assists on the year. Goalie Bridget Bianco made six key saves in the win. "At halftime Alyssa (Leonard) and I looked at each other said we're not going to lose this game," Thornton said. "Everyone on our team really picked it up, played grittier and did the little things we need to do to be successful. It's a mentality we need to have all the time."
Virginia got off to a fast start in a very literal sense, twice capitalizing off turnovers by the Wildcats and scoring in transition in numbers-up situations. The hosts then made it 3-0 in the early going before Northwestern got on the board at the 21:57 mark when Beatrice Conley fed Alyssa Leonard on the doorstep for Leonard's 22nd goal of the year.
Both defenses made their presence felt with a combined eight caused turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, but the Cavs managed to regain a three-goal edge with a goal by Courtney Swan. Northwestern came back with a goal only 33 seconds later as Taylor Thornton created on her own and beat UVA goalkeeper Liz Colgan with 11:19 left in the first.
A stick check and caused turnover by Christy Turner with six minutes left in the first half returned possession to the Wildcats, who made the most of an extra opportunity on attack. Junior Kelly Rich cashed in on an 8-meter shot and cut NU's deficit in half with her 10th goal of 2012.
Northwestern goalkeeper Bridget Bianco kept the score at 4-3 thanks to a clutch save with just over 30 seconds left in the first half, and followed that up by opening the second stanza with another save on Virginia's first possession.
Soon after, Fitzgerald broke through for her first goal of the night off a dish by Rich from behind the cage, and the Wildcats were level on the scoreboard for the first time in the game. The hosts briefly regained the lead thanks to their first goal since the 11:52 mark of the first half before Amanda Macaluso evened things at five by racing across the fan and beating Colgan with her left hand.
Less than 90 seconds later, Fitzgerald gave Northwestern its first lead of the game with 18:12 remaining when she lined up her defender, dodged to her right hand and scored far-post against Colgan, forcing a Virginia timeout. The Cavs could do little to slow NU's momentum, however, and with 10:57 to play Flibotte surged across the restraining line, took a feed in stride and scored to make it 7-5 Wildcats.
Northwestern then tacked on an 8-meter goal by Thornton before Fitzgerald went to her go-to move across the fan to complete her hat trick, cap off NU's 8-1 run and set the score at 9-5.
Virginia would score its first goal in 21 minutes of game action with just over five minutes left on the clock, but the Wildcats took advantage of Virginia's late defensive attempts to regain possession as Macaluso and Conley tallied open-net goals in the final two and a half minutes.
Northwestern finished with an 11-8 edge in draw controls for the game, led by Leonard's four. The NU junior now stands only four draw controls shy of matching Kristen Kjellman's Northwestern career record of 288.