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Archive for May 28, 2007

May 28, 2007 — The mighty wind

It was almost appropriate that a sudden gust of wind swept across the floor of Franklin Field in the final minute of Northwestern’s 15-13 win over Virginia in the 2007 NCAA women’s lacrosse final.

After all, on the Christian calendar, May 28 is Whitsunday, a day marking the rush of a violent wind in a roomful of disciples.

And the white-clad women from Northwestern, putting total faith and trust in each other and their decisionmaking, set themselves apart with their third straight title, and second over Virginia.

As befitting a team in its fourth NCAA title match in five years, the Cavaliers did not make it easy for the Wildcats. Virginia opened the game with two goals in the first two minutes by winning draws that the Wildcats originally controlled, but by sending multiple midfielders at whichever opponent snared the draw, managed to disrupt Northwestern from getting into a settled possession.

The Wildcats responded, scoring the game’s next seven goals, threatening to make the game a rout. Sophomore Hilary Bowen, voted the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, led the onslaught for the Wildcats, scoring two of her five goals in that span.

Virginia remained close and kept the deficit at five goals at the interval. In the second half, however, Northwestern appeared to lose some of its spring in its offense. That was because the Cavs played a tough matchup defense that would have not been out of place in the Palestra basketball arena next door to Franklin Field. Claire Bordley, Jen Holden, and Jessy Morgan were extremely strong, and frustrated the Wildcat offense for long stretches of the second half.

Virginia, as often as possible, took Northwestern’s speed game and threw it right back in their faces. Leading up to the TV timeout at 37 minutes, the Cavaliers scored four straight goals to cut the deficit to one. But less than a minute after that interval, Aly Josephs responded to make the score 13-11 in favor of Northwestern.

Northwestern attemted to shorten the game thereafter. The Wildcats had a three-minute possession, then a five-minute hold, both of which forced Virginia to chase the ball more than it would like. Virginia got the ball after the five-minute Northwestern possession, but could not find the cage to tie the game.

On the next Northwestern possession, freshman Morgan Dowd completed her hat trick to form the final score.

The intensity with which Northwestern celebrated its third straight national championship — putting itself alongside Maryland’s 1990s-era dynasty as three-time winners — was that of a team winning for the first time.

And after celebrating with the team’s purple-clad supporters, bringing the trophy across the field to the stands, it began to rain heavily.

A purple rain.

Or perhaps, a purple reign.