Northwestern Edges Maryland to Reclaim Crown
STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- Northwestern brought home its sixth NCAA championship in the last seven years Sunday with a gut-wrenching 8-7 victory over top-seeded Maryland and did so with its most complete team effort of the 2011 season. NU shut down the nation's fourth-leading offense, keeping Maryland to two second-half goals, while also coming back from an early 4-1 deficit thanks to four goals by tournament MVP Shannon Smith.
In a back-and-forth first half, Maryland scored four goals in a span of 1:34 but was held in check to the tune of only one goal in the remaining 28:26 of the first 30 minutes as the game went to halftime tied at five. But unlike 2010, NU overwhelmingly controlled the pace of the game in the second half, taking the lead for good at the 15:23 mark and controlling possession for the final quarter of the game.
Northwestern's defensive effort was due in part to the play of freshman Kerri Harrington, who made her first career start and was tasked with shutting down Maryland finalist Sarah Mollison. Mollison saw her streak of 67 consecutive games with a point come to an end in her final college game.
Junior and Long Island native Brianne LoManto was on top of her game in the net, particularly in the second half when she had saves on free positions, breakaways and point-blank Maryland shots. She finished with seven in the game to raise her career total to 316, fourth all-time at NU.