Northwestern was led by Hilary Bowen, who was named the tournament's most outstanding player after scoring five goals in the win.
"This is something we have wanted all year long, so I'm thrilled for these girls and the Northwestern program," said Wildcats coach Kelly Almont Hiller.
Virginia (19-4) earned a berth in the final by making a historic comeback from nine goals down to defeat Duke, 19-18, on Friday.
Last night, the Cavaliers scored on their first five possessions of the second half to pull within 12-11. The Wildcats were ahead by just 14-13 after Virginia's Megan O'Malley took a pass from Ashley McCulloch and scored with 10 minutes, 21 seconds left.
O'Malley, a former Moorestown High star, scored a hat trick.
On its ensuing possession, Northwestern drew jeers from the Virginia faithful when the Wildcats played a little keep-away to kill some time. About five minutes elapsed before Northwestern's Hannah Nielsen charged from behind the net and fired a shot that was blocked by Virginia goalie Kendall McBrearty.
"I just wanted to take a little air out of the ball," Hiller said of the tactics. "They were pretty much scoring at will at that point."
Once they gained possession, the Cavaliers went the other way in a rush, but Northwestern goalie Morgan Lathrop stopped shots by Blair Weymouth and Brittany Kalkstein.
Katrina Dowd scored an insurance goal for Northwestern at the 2:29 mark. It was the last goal of the game.
Bowen scored four first-half goals for Northwestern, which led by 11-6 at the break.
The Wildcats, who defeated Virginia, 13-10, in the 2005 final, saw the Cavaliers close to 12-10 7:48 into the second half on a goal by Kalkstein. When Kate Breslin followed with another Virginia score less than a minute later, the Cavaliers were within one goal.
But Bowen came up with her fifth goal to give the Wildcats a 14-12 edge with 13:24 remaining.
Northwestern had roared to an 8-0 halftime lead against Penn in the semifinals, but Virginia scored the first two goals in this game.
"Obviously, that was the way we wanted to start the game," Virginia coach Julie Myers said. "But we knew there were 50 minutes left."
Quakers honored. Penn's Karen Jann and Hilary Renna were named to the 12-player all-tournament team.
Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum
at 215-854-2583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.