No. 4 Northwestern's Defense Prevails vs. No. 8 Penn State

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EVANSTON, Ill.; April 5, 2013 No. 8 Penn State fell to No. 4 Northwestern, 11-3, at Lakeside Field Friday night. The Nittany Lions fell to 7-4 overall and 2-1 in ALC play, while the Wildcats improved to 10-1 and 4-0, respectively.

Senior Molly Fernandez (Baltimore, Md.) and sophomores Tatum Coffey (Toms River, N.J.) and Kelly Lechner (Silver Spring, Md.) tallied one goal each, but the Nittany Lions' 10th-ranked offense was unable to solve an aggressive Wildcat defense. With an assist on Fernandez's marker, junior Mackenzie Cyr (Westminster, Md.) extended her point-scoring streak to 18 games.

Redshirt senior defender Colleen Shea (Baltimore, Md.) matched a game-high with three caused turnovers, while both freshman Emi Smith (Denver, Colo.) and redshirt senior Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) saw action in net. Smith allowed the first eight Northwestern strikes before Halus surrendered the final three markers. Both goalkeepers collected one save.

The Wildcats outshot Penn State by a 21-10 margin and won 10 draws to the Nittany Lions' six. Erin Fitzgerald led Northwestern with four goals, while Taylor Thornton and Alyssa Leonard netted two markers each. Bridget Bianco made four saves.

Fernandez and Lechner tallied first-half markers, but Penn State trailed the Wildcats by a 6-2 margin after the first 30 minutes of play. Northwestern grabbed a 1-0 advantage just one minute after the opening draw, but Fernandez knotted the game with 27:16 left in the half. Cyr ran down an errant pass before feeding Fernandez near the middle of the circle, where she ripped her 15th goal of the season to the back of the net.

Northwestern answered with five straight tallies en route to a 6-1 lead. Leonard struck at 4:14 of the frame before Fitzgerald tallied her second marker on a free-position shot with 23:08 left.

With 17:39 remaining in the half, Thornton made it 4-1 in favor of the Wildcats before Nancy Dunbar and Kaleigh Craig added tallies at 20:27 and 27:48, respectively, to extend the Northwestern advantage to 6-1.

Lechner responded for Penn State with 1:13 left in the half. Freshman Madison Cyr (Westminster, Md.) took the ball behind the cage before finding Lechner cutting down the middle of the circle for the sophomore's 17th tally of the year.

Northwestern opened the second half with a pair of markers before the Nittany Lions answered with 14:03 left in the game. Leonard gave the Wildcats a five-goal advantage 4:09 into the stanza before Fitzgerald made it an 8-2 contest with a free-position marker.

At 15:57 of the period, Coffey tallied her 18th goal of the season. Sophomore Maggie McCormick (Eldersburg, Md.) was stationed to the left of the cage and fed Coffey cutting toward the cage. The Toms River, N.J., native corralled the pass and beat Bianco.

The Wildcats finished the game on a 3-0 run en route to the 11-3 victory. Fitzgerald notched her fourth goal of the contest with 10:29 left before Thornton added her second at 18:18 of the stanza. Kate Macdonald rounded out the scoring 25 seconds later to account for the 11-3 final.

Penn State will return home Wednesday, April 10 when it welcomes Lehigh to Penn State Lacrosse Field. Opening draw is set at 7:00 p.m.

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