May 1, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Vanderbilt showed the defending American Lacrosse Conference Tournament champ it wouldn't be a first-round pushover.
Led by a career-high five goals from freshman Jill Doherty and a stingy defensive effort, Commodores gave No. 5 Northwestern all it wanted. Unfortunately, two goals separated by 10 seconds proved to be the difference in a season-ending 12-9 loss for Vanderbilt in the opening round of the ALC Tournament at Lakeside Field.
Vanderbilt trailed 8-5 early in the second half but rallied and tied the game with 13:13 left when Amanda Lockwood soared a shot into the top of the net for her second goal of the game after a nifty pass from Doherty.
Both teams battled for the next few minutes until Northwestern, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, took the lead for good on a goal by Kara Mupo with 9:18 left. Ten seconds later, after Northwestern won the draw, Christy Turner scored on a breakaway for a two-goal lead.
The Wildcats (11-5) tacked on two more goals in the final nine minutes to seal the victory - its 14th straight over Vanderbilt. The loss ended the season for the sixth-seeded Commodores (5-12).
"I am really proud of our team's effort today," coach Cathy Swezey said. "Our defense had an amazing showing. I wish we could have come out on top, so the girls would know the benefit of their hard work. Wins and losses don't always tell the whole story of a season and this team had a lot of character and fight this year."
Vanderbilt, three weeks removed from a 15-9 loss to Northwestern, showed early it planned to put up a fight against the host Wildcats. When Northwestern went up 3-1 less than seven minutes in, the Commodores didn't buckle.
They slowly battled back, paced by Doherty. The freshman midfielder exploited the left side with her dangerous sidearm shot. She had a hat trick in the opening 12 minutes of the game and notched two straight, including one after a slick pass from Mallory Schonk, to tie the game with 18:23 left in the first half.
The Commodores jumped ahead 33 seconds later with a 4-3 lead when sophomore Kelly Chandler drove into traffic and delivered a low shot past Northwestern goalie Bridget Bianco. Northwestern responded with three straight goals to take a 6-4 lead. But the Commodores grabbed back some momentum when Doherty scored her fourth goal of the game on a free position shot with 1:39 left. Vanderbilt headed into halftime trailing just 6-5.
Northwestern again briefly created some breathing room - with two goals 13 seconds apart. But, as they have all season, the Commodores didn't back down. They slowly mounted a comeback. Doherty got it started with a quick wrister for her 20th goal of the season after a nice pass from Emma Dagres with 25:13 left. Lockwood pulled the team within one thanks to a high shot on a free position attempt. Nearly 10 minutes later, Lockwood scored her 18th goal of the season to tie the game.
Vanderbilt had a couple opportunities to take the lead over the next four minutes. But the Wildcats' defensive pressure forced a turnover and a contested shot by Abby Wheeler that was saved by Bianco.
"We showed them we could stick with them," Doherty said. "We are a young team but I think we got a lot of confidence at the end of our season. It is really reassuring going into the next couple seasons. We're really looking forward to it." Northwestern won ground balls (23-15), draw controls (15-8) and shots (32-23). Junior goalkeeper Maddie Kratz had another splendid day in goal, making 11 saves for one shy of a career-high.
The Commodores did force 14 turnovers, with seven caused. Senior captain Brandi Byner caused three turnovers. Byner and fellow senior captains Alyssa Dunlap and Abby Wheeler, who were recognized as All-ALC honorees before the game, played their last collegiate game.