Northwestern wins 5th straight title
TOWSON, Md. -- After North Carolina cut Northwestern's lead to two midway through the first half, the Wildcats scored 10 consecutive goals to pull away.
Hilary Bowen scored five goals, and Katrina Dowd and Danielle Spencer had four apiece to lead Northwestern to its fifth straight NCAA championship in women's Division I lacrosse with a 21-7 victory over the Tar Heels on Sunday.
The Wildcats (23-0) broke several records, including points in a season (570), goals scored in a season (407) and most goals in a championship game. Northwestern's five titles is second only to Maryland, which has nine, and the Wildcats' 20 consecutive tournament game wins is one shy of the record set by Terrapins from 1995 to 2002.
"Every team has been special," Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. "Every team has had special kids on it. This is certainly a very special day. But to me, each group has been important and will be remembered in my mind."
Hannah Nielsen added six assists to give her a record 16 in the tournament. Dowd, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, increased her tournament record for goals with 22.
Jenn Russell had two goals for North Carolina (16-5), which was making its first appearance in the title game.
Bowen opened the scoring for Northwestern just 48 seconds into the game, extending her streak of having at least a point to 59 consecutive games. After North Carolina cut Northwestern's lead to 4-2 midway through the first half, the Wildcats scored the next 10 and eventually led 15-3 lead at the half on 17 shots.
"Our offense was firing in the first half." Nielsen said. "We talked at the beginning of the game how important it was to get everyone working as a unit. We were shooting really well."
Northwestern, which trailed only once the entire tournament, scored four more unanswered goals in the opening eight minutes of the second half before the Tar Heels got a goal by Russell with 15:53 remaining.
"[Northwestern] had a target on their backs all season and they performed up to their abilities," North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said. "They played an outstanding game today. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't our best game of the year. We had a great season."
Northwestern has won 20 consecutive tournament games, one shy of the record set by Maryland from 1995 to 2002. Northwestern loses 11 seniors in the hunt for its sixth title.
"I am just going to soak up this win and come the fall, we'll see what we got," Spencer said. "Next year is going to be an entirely different teambut next year is going to be just as strong."
The announced crowd of 6,515 was also a record for women's lacrosse final.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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