Towson, Md. — Northwestern Lacrosse won its fourth straight national title Sunday night, 10-6.
A long-anticipated rematch with rival Penn, the only team to defeat Northwestern in the regular season, resulted in a historic fourth straight championship, the second-longest streak in NCAA history.
The game’s intensity and competitive nature was appropriate for a national championship for the record crowd at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Junior attack Hilary Bowen was named Most Outstanding Player in the tournament, for the second year in a row.
Read about the second half below. For the first half live blog, click here.
Northwestern leads 5-2 to start the 2nd half.
The ‘Cats are playing a complete game thus far. They have goals from five different players and 3 of those goals have been assisted. Morgan Lathrop, the superstar goalie for Northwestern, has 5 saves already. Coach Hiller can’t possibly have much to be upset about at this point.
A 5-2 score in the first half is deceiving, because usually defensive-minded Penn would be relatively happy with the results. Low scoring games are Penn’s specialty. However, Northwestern recorded 13 shots in the first half and has been sort of casually dominating this game because of the imbalance in possession time. Northwestern has controlled draws and held on to the ball after winning them. They are playing great defense, revolving around a stellar performance from Morgan Lathrop.
Let’s see what happens in the second half, which is where Northwestern is going to hope to open this game up.
Casey Donahoe looked like she had a goal in the first few moments of the first half, but she was denied because of an alleged foot in the crease. Iffy call from the refs.
Then Penn gets a longer possession on the other end. Lathrop records another save but is unable to get a stick on the tough shot in the top right by sophomore Emma Spiro of Penn, her 18th of the season.
Northwestern holds the draw once again, the seventh out of 10 for the game.
The Wildcats don’t stay quiet long, when Bowen answers with her 80th goal of the season and second of the night. Bowen was the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player last season, and she’s on her way to a second if the ‘Cats can hold on.
Another goal from the unstoppable duo — Nielsen to Bowen. Nielsen has 3 assists, and Bowen 3 goals. Hey, good news for you NU fans. You know the two best players in the nation, Hilary Bowen and Hannah Nielsen? Yeah, they’re both JUNIORS!
NU has two goals in the last minute and a half.
Wait a minute — Christy Finch just got another goal! The senior defender just took the ball all the way up the field and records her second career goal. The Tewaaraton award nominee shows her offensive side as well here. Bowen and company’s reaction to the senior’s goal was worth the price of admission.
5 goals is the margin, the largest deficit Penn has faced all season.
Penn gets a goal, cutting the lead to four. Chelsea Kocis, the senior, got the goal for Penn. Then Ali DeLuca gets her second goal, cutting the lead to three. Northwestern wants to slow the pace down; Penn wants to speed it up.
Behind the goal, Emma Spiro had the ball and got checked by Christy Finch. Morgan Lathrop made her first obvious mental error and came out of goal to handle the ball, but it got scooped up by Rachel Manson, and Penn gets another goal. This is suddenly a game. Northwestern’s defense has got to tighten up and they have to stop turning the ball over on offense.
Hannah Nielsen answers for the ‘Cats, her second of the game. Now the ‘Cats have three in our 50-goal club (Bowen, Spencer, and now Nielsen). This is exactly what you want out of a championship game — intensity, physicality and tenacity.
Hannah Nielsen just put in a dagger into Penn’s hopes. With a little more than three minutes on the board, Northwestern increases the margin to four and probably out of sight for Penn.
Brief postgame notes: Bowen Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament, 2 years running. All-Tournament team selections: Maggie Bremer, Christy Finch, Meredith Frank, Morgan Lathrop, Hannah Nielsen (maybe missing one or two?)
A hard-fought NU win. Thanks for reading — more coming later.