Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/26/08
Penn coach Karin Brower was disappointed and yet proud of her team’s remarkable trek to the NCAA Division I championship game following Sunday’s 10-6 loss to Northwestern at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium.
“We are just really happy that we had a fabulous season,” said Brower. “I have a great group of young girls that worked really hard all year to get us to this point and I am just really proud of them.
“They fought the entire game and worked their hearts out. I have to give a lot of credit to Northwestern.”
The Wildcats claimed their fourth straight NCAA title, opening up a 5-2 halftime lead and then staving off a furious Penn comeback attempt in the second half.
Second-seeded Penn (17-2) trailed, 8-3, after the top-seeded Wildcats (21-1) tallied three unanswered goals in a span of just over one-and-a-half minutes early in the second half. But scores by Chelsea Kocis, Ali DeLuca (two goals) and Rachel Manson cut the deficit to 8-6 with 13:57 to play.
Penn had a chance to get another goal back after winning the ensuing draw, but Katrina Dowd intercepted a pass to set up Hannah Nielson’s second goal. Nielson scored the hat trick with her 51st goal of the season with just over three and a half minutes remaining in the game to ice the game.
The goal came after Penn’s Allison Ambrozy hit two posts on two consecutive shots with 8:30 remaining in the game. After that sequence, Northwestern held the ball for the remainder of the game, taking away any chance Penn had for a comeback.
Penn outshot the Wildcats by one, 20-19. The only clear difference on the stat sheet was in draw controls, where Northwestern outdrew the Quakers, 11-7, the differential of four equaling the difference on the scoreboard after the final horn.
Morgan Lathrop had 11 saves in goal for the ‘Cats while Sarah Waxman stopped six shots for the Red and Blue. Emma Spiro and Kaitlyn Lombardo also scored for Penn.
The Quakers had three players named to the All-Tournament Team: Melissa Lehman, Hillary Renna and Manson. Northwestern’s Hilary Bowen (three goals, one assist on Sunday) was named the Most Outstanding Player.
The loss in the championship game does not overshadow the accomplishments of the 2008 team. Penn set a program-record for consecutive wins (15) and has gone 33-4 over the last two seasons – with three of the losses coming at the hands of Northwestern.
“Not only did we make history for our program, we made history for our university, which is really exciting,” Manson said.