Shocking longtime rival Florida, Northwestern lacrosse claimed its eighth ALC title with an 8-3 win in the conference tournament championship in Baltimore Sunday. The Wildcats' juniors, normally overshadowed by the team’s dominant seniors, led the way by scoring all eight goals.
Against quality teams like Florida, Northwestern often allows its opponents to score quickly and frequently, digging a hole that is difficult to climb out of. In the ALC title game, however, the 'Cats kept it close in the first half.
Junior attacker/midfielder Kelly Rich scored Northwestern’s first goal off a pass from junior attacker Kat DeRonda. DeRonda would provide much-needed firepower for the Cats, logging three goals and one assist on the day.
After two Gator goals, the 'Cats answered with two goals of its own, the first by DeRonda, assisted by Rich, and the second by junior midfielder Alyssa Leonard.
In the first half, the Wildcats overpowered Florida in nearly every category. Northwestern won all six draws of the first half, led by draw control specialist Leonard and senior defender Gabriella Flibotte. The pair combined for 10 total draw controls, while Florida only won three.
The Wildcats started the second half even stronger than they did in the first. DeRonda scored after junior Gator defender Kayla Stolins drew a yellow card. Northwestern junior defender Kate Macdonald ventured over the restraining line to attack, scoring the team’s fifth goal. Florida only scored once more before Northwestern took over.
DeRonda, Leonard and Rich, Northwestern’s powerhouse trio of goal-scorers for the day, scored within three minutes, ending their run still with 11:32 left to play. The Northwestern defense held Florida to just those three goals and prevented the Gators from getting back in the game.
Northwestern fired 15 shots on senior goalie Mikey Meagher in the second half while its own goalie, sophomore Bridget Bianco, had three saves on the day. Noticeably quiet, senior attacker Erin Fitzgerald took five shots and made none.
Northwestern previously dropped its regular season game to Florida by 18 goals last month.
Done with ALC Tournament play, Northwestern will begin its run in the NCAA Tournament next Sunday, with the opponent, time and location yet to be announced.