No. 4 Northwestern women spoil No. 11 Johns Hopkins' conference opener

For The Baltimore Sun

The last time the Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse team hosted Northwestern, in 2011, the Blue Jays earned one of the biggest upsets in the history of their program.

The Wildcats returned to Homewood Field on Saturday, and this time the game did not go nearly as well for Johns Hopkins. Erin Fitzgerald tied a career-high with five goals and No. 4 Northwestern never trailed in a 18-8 victory.

The No. 11 Blue Jays dropped their American Lacrosse Conference opener after starting the season with four straight victories. Johns Hopkins was also playing the second of four consecutive games against nationally ranked opponents and still must face No. 8 Georgetown and No. 16 Towson over the next 10 days.

"We want to be one of the top teams," Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker said. "Today, a lot was on us. Northwestern is absolutely amazing. But there were some things we exposed about ourselves that we are going to need to clean up. We take that as a positive."

Sarah Taylor and Dene' DiMartino each had two goals for Johns Hopkins. Blue Jays leading scorer Taylor D'Amore did not have much room to work, but she still finished with two assists with Northwestern's Kerri Harrington shadowing her the entire game. D'Amore also managed to extend her consecutive point streak to 26 consecutive games.

Alyssa Leonard had three goals and Gabriella Flibotte scored twice for Northwestern (5-1, 2-0 ALC), which has won seven of the past eight national championships.

The Blue Jays were nine of 15 with clears, providing Northwestern's high-powered attack with several second-chances. Johns Hopkins also committed 15 turnovers.

"I think these are four tough games," Taylor said about the schedule. "I think they are going to be really good games for us. It's good for us to have this tough competition and I definitely think we can handle it."

After a goal by Jenna Reifler (Roland Park) pulled Johns Hopkins to within a goal with 12:36 left in the first half, Fitzgerald and Flibotte answered with two goals each in the final nine minutes, and the Wildcats led 8-3 lead at the break.

Northwestern continued to pull away in the second half. Free position goals by Christina Esposito and Leonard in the opening three minutes extended the lead to 10-3. The Blue Jays were held scoreless for almost 23 minutes before Taylor scored with 19:59 left to cut the deficit to 11-4.

But the Wildcats were simply too strong for the Blue Jays to make any type of run. A goal by Fitzgerald provided a 14-4 lead and a running clock with 14:18 left. It was her second consecutive five-goal game.

The Blue Jays did manage three goals in the final 1:03 minutes of the game.

Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller likes the way her team responded by winning three consecutive games after losing to North Carolina, 11-8, on Feb. 22.

"This is such an important game because it's a conference game too," Amonte Hiller said. "We wanted to make sure we came out strong. The girls have really working hard since our loss to UNC and want to improve. So, we're excited about the way they played today."

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