Senior Meredith Frank scored her third goal of the game with 1:31 remaining in the second overtime to spoil a dramatic Penn comeback and give Northwestern a 13-12 victory Friday in an NCAA semifinal matchup at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md.
The Quakers (15-3) rallied from four goals down in the final seven minutes to send the game into overtime before bowing to the four-time defending national champions in the Final Four for the third straight year.
No. 1 Northwestern (22-0), which defeated Penn in the finals last year, advances to the title game Sunday against North Carolina, an 8-7 winner over No. 2 Maryland.
After three straight goals from Northwestern, Penn trailed 11-7 with 9:14 remaining in the game. But the Quakers were unfazed by the big deficit.
Samantha Bird capped the 4-0 run with 1:30 left – the first time the game had been tied since the opening draw control. Northwestern held possession as the clock wound down, but the Quakers defense didn’t allow a shot to send the game into overtime.
Penn scored first in overtime when freshman Erin Brennan put the Quakers up 12-11 with 10 seconds left in the first half of the extra session. However, as time expired, the Wildcats were able to flick the ball in and tie the game at 12-12 heading into the second frame of OT.
Northwestern took an early lead, scoring the first three goals of the game within the first five minutes. The Quakers were slow to start and were punished for their mistakes with two turnovers converted to goals.
Sophomore Giulia Giordano (three goals) opened the Quakers scoring with a free position shot 12 minutes into the game. Over the next four minutes, Quakers found their footing and closed the defecit to one, 4-3, with 14:30 remaining and were within a goal of the end of the half, 5-4.
It was an 8-7 game midway through the second half before the Wildcats scored three unanswered to open up their biggest lead of the game at 11-7.
Facing their largest deficit of the game, Penn scored four goals in the final 6:22 of regulation to stage one of the most exciting comebacks in recent memory. First it was Bird scoring, Then Giordano, and then Ali DeLuca (four goals) before Bird tied it, 11-11, with 1:30 to play in regulation.
In the overtime, Northwestern won the opening draw, but Emma Spiro was able to pry the ball away and give Penn a go on attack. After Northwestern was called for a foul inside the eight meters, the Quakers tried the trick that won them the 2008 NCAA semifinal – a pass from the center hash to crease for the tip in. Giordano gathered the pass and fired, but Morgan Lathrop was quick with the save, but not with the rebound.
Giordano took another shot, this time wide to Becca Edwards (Springfield-Montco). The senior coolly fed Brennan at the side of the crease. The rookie fired once pulling Lathrop out of position on the play and then gathered the rebound and gave the Quakers their first lead of the day.
With 11 seconds to go in the first three-minute period, Northwestern again won the draw and got the equalizer. The second three-minutes saw saves on both ends before the game was sent to sudden death.
Emily Szelest had seven saves for Penn in goal.