Penn can’t top No. 1 Northwestern

Posted: May 25, 2007

The Northwestern Wildcats were the No. 1 women's college lacrosse team in the nation before tonight's semifinal game of NCAA Division I championship game against host Penn.

There was little doubt left as to the worthiness of that ranking by the time Northwestern finished with the Quakers in a 12-2 rout at Franklin Field.

Seeking its third straight national championship, Northwestern (20-1) jumped to an eight-point lead by halftime, making it moot as to whether Penn could pull an upset on its home field.

Northwestern will now prepare for the winner of last night's semifinal between Atlantic Coast Conference foes Duke and Virginia.

The title game is scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow.

The Quakers (16-2) had exceeded all expectations except their own in gaining a spot in the final four in their own backyard a year after going 10-6. Penn used this magical year to make the NCAAs for the first time since 1984 after claiming its first Ivy League title since 1982.

In this game, the Quakers were overwhelmed early and often, and there was little doubt as to the outcome even in the opening moments of the first half.

"I think we came a long way and it was a wonderful year for us," said Penn coach Karin Brower. "We're really proud we made it here today. We should have played a little better. But Northwestern is a great team and they deserved to win today."

The loss was Penn's first at home this season. That was but one reason Penn had high hopes. After all, the Quakers entered yesterday's game 8-0 on campus and with a school-record 13-game winning streak.

It was the second meeting of the year between Penn and Northwestern, which pinned the Quakers with their only regular-season defeat, on March 9 on the Wildcats' home field.

Northwestern, which hasn't gone down since a season-opening loss at North Carolina that wasn't settled until two overtimes had been played, was led yesterday by five goals from Aly Josephs.

Her Wildcats teammate, Kristin Kjellman, scored three times, and three other Northwestern players had at least one goal each.

By the time Penn scored for the first time in the game, it was about 14 minutes into the second half.

"Northwestern started off in a typical lacrosse defense, and we really needed to take advantage of that in the beginning," Brower said. "Our attackers turned the ball over a little bit, and then, when we started going on a run, they put their high-pressure defense on and we just couldn't control the ball."

The pattern was painfully familiar to the Quakers. When Northwestern hosted Penn in what was each side's fourth outing of the season, the Wildcats broke the contest open by scoring seven unanswered goals during the last 30 minutes of a 13-4 victory.

In that game, the Quakers faced an early deficit of 5-1 and trailed 6-3 at intermission.

Last night, Northwestern led 8-0 at halftime as four players scored goals.

At the outset, Penn had trouble penetrating into goal-scoring range against the Northwestern defense. The Quakers were probing and trying different passes to no avail, and more often than not, the Wildcats would gain control of the ball and head off the other way.

Josephs, who scored four goals during the first 30 minutes, put her team up 1-0 with a free-position score 4 minutes, 27 seconds into the match.

After that, Penn's deficit grew quickly.

It was 2-0 after the Wildcats' Meredith Frank came from behind the goal to beat Penn goalie Sarah Waxman at the 17:37 mark, and Josephs came back to bounce the ball in for a 3-0 Northwestern lead with 14:42 remaining in the first half.

Less than two minutes later, Kjellman made it 4-0, and within another couple of minutes, it was 5-0 after Hilary Bowen scored unassisted.

The speedy Kjellman scored what was the most impressive goal of the half when she charged at the Penn defense from about 40 yards away and put the ball in the net from about seven yards.

Josephs gave Northwestern its halftime margin by adding to her goal total with 9:35 remaining in the half, and again at 53 seconds.

The rout was on.

With the score 10-0 and 20:09 to go, Brower made a switch at goalie and inserted Sara Harrington in a nothing-to-lose attempt to stop the Northwestern onslaught.

By then, the Quakers were facing a Northwestern advantage that would prove to be insurmountable.

Penn finally got on the scoreboard with 16:29 left to play when Chrissy Muller took a nice pass from Kaitlyn Lombardo and scored high over the right shoulder of goalie Morgan Lathrop.

But the Wildcats answered that score with Hannah Nielsen's tally 24 seconds later, and it was 11-1.

The three goals scored by Northwestern senior Kjellman gave her an NCAA tournament record of 38 for her career. She also set Northwestern career records for goals with 249 and points with 347.


Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum

at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.

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