Northwestern scored early and often and coasted to the women's lacrosse Final Four for the sixth year in a row with a 18-8 victory over Duke in an NCAA quarterfinal Saturday at Lakefront Stadium in Evanston. in an NCAA quarterfinal Saturday.
Three early goals from Danielle Spencer, who scored four in the first half, lifted five-time reigning NCAA women's lacrosse champion Northwestern (19-1) to a 10-0 lead.
Erin Fitzgerald scored four for NU and Katrina Dowd, three to give her 74 this season. Dowd's second goal was her 41st career tournament making her the most prolific goal scorer in NCAA tournament history. She finished the afternoon with her 92nd career NCAA goal, breaking the record of 40 established by former NU All-America Hilary Bowen last spring.
Sophomore Shannon Smith and freshman Amanda Macaluso also had three goals each for the Cats.
NU sophomore goalie Brianne LoManto was magnificent early and finished with a career-high 12 saves
NU also set an NCAA record with its 22nd consecutive NCAA tournament win. Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller was part of the old record of 21 that was set by Maryland in the mid-1990s and matched by NU last week in its opening-round victory over Notre Dame.
Sophomore Alexandra Frank (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) also had a goal for NU, which built a 13-2 halftime lead.
"Our game plan was to set the tone early, and it played out just the way we wanted it to," Amonte Hiller said. "Our girls werereally looking forward to this game, and it was probably the best half of lacrosse we've played all season. We're so excited to be heading back to the Final Four this weekend. It's an incredible time of year."
More than 1,200 came out to a watch the quarterfinal, giving NU an average attendance of just under 950, which led the nation.
Up next for NU is a rematch with third-ranked North Carolina at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md. The Tar Heels are the only team to best the Wildcats this season, winning 18-16 in Evanston on April 18. That game will be the second semifinal game Friday, May 28 and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be televised live on CBS College Sports Network.so.
The other semifinal will pit Maryland against Syracuse.