Armed with a terrific game plan, fourth-ranked Northwestern took the field against No. 2 Florida Sunday in Baltimore for the American Lacrosse Championship title game and executed it to perfection, bottling up the Gators en route to an 8-3 upset win and their sixth ALC crown in seven years.
In this the third straight year that the ‘Cats and Gators have met to decide the ALC Championship, NU dictated possession from start to finish, winning 10 of 13 draw controls — including seven straight to open the game – and outshooting Florida by a substantial 24-9 margin. The Gators, who defeated Northwestern by a score of 22-4 just two weeks ago in Gainesville, were held 21 shots and nearly 13 goals below their season per-game averages.
Florida scored only goal in the final 51 minutes of game action, while UF’s top two point-scorers this season Kitty Cullen (61 points) and Shannon Gilroy (57) combined for only one assist Sunday thanks largely to another stellar face-guarding effort by Kerri Harrington. The two combined for 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in Northwestern’s regular-season loss to the Gators.
“We were fired up to play today but it was a different kind of hyped up, it was more of a laser focus before the game and you could see it in everybody’s eyes when you looked around,” said junior Alyssa Leonard, who today set the Northwestern single-season record for draw controls as she hauled in seven to bring her 2013 total to 112. “What happened in the regular season was humbling, but today we were all ready to play and we weren’t going to let what happened last time affect this game.”
Two more juniors, Kat DeRonda and Kelly Rich, spearheaded a judicious Northwestern attack all afternoon, with DeRonda netting her second career hat trick and adding one assist while Rich recorded two goals and one helper. Leonard scored twice to go along with her seven draw controls, while ALC Championship MVP Gabriella Flibotte posted three draw controls and two caused turnovers in the defensive midfield.