Goalie Morgan Lathrop isn't one of those Northwestern women's lacrosse players with a big national reputation. But at this rate, she will have one soon.
The sophomore goalie made 11 saves in the No. 1 Wildcats' 12-5 win over No. 14 Johns Hopkins before about 1,100 fans at Homewood Field yesterday. Just about every one came against a good Blue Jays shot.
"She's a very talented goalie. She's had a great year," said Hopkins coach Janine Tucker, "and you need to shoot well to beat her. I thought we did have some nice shots on cage and she really did have some excellent saves."
Lathrop has allowed only 5.92 goals per game - the best in Division I. She made 14 saves in Monday's 12-7 win over No. 2 Maryland.
"This season, Morgan's just gotten better and better," said Wildcats midfielder Kristen Kjellman, the 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy winner as the best player in Division I. "Our game against Maryland, she played tremendous. In a game like this, where it was close, too, those saves were huge for us. She's been our unsung hero this year and really a leader also on the field."
Lathrop's five saves sprinkled throughout the first half kept the Blue Jays from gaining much momentum in the American Lacrosse Conference game.
Hopkins managed one spurt in which Mary Key fed Sam Schrum and then scored a free-position goal to tie the game at 2 eight minutes in. After that, the Wildcats (12-1, 3-0 conference) answered every Blue Jays goal with at least two.
Lauren Schwarzmann scored a free-position goal with 4:26 left in the half to keep the Blue Jays (8-6, 1-2) within striking distance at 6-4.
While Lathrop continued to thwart the Blue Jays in the second half, the bigger problem was possession. The Wildcats held the ball for long stretches, working their settled offense. The Blue Jays weren't so patient.
"We held defensive stints for five, six minutes," Key said, "and we came out and had a real quick shot. Then it was right back down our throats, so anytime that happens, it's going to be difficult to sustain the kind of defensive pressure we were playing and get the stops."
Kjellman said Wildcats coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller has been preaching more patience on attack, even though her team boasts the top scoring offense in the nation, averaging 16.73 goals per game going into last night.
"Our attack did a good job of not trying to rush our shots too much, taking some time off the clock and waiting for a good opportunity. I think that worked in our favor because they got a little anxious once they got the ball," said Kjellman, who finished with five goals while Hannah Nielsen added four goals and two assists.
The Blue Jays hope to get another crack at the Wildcats when they host the first ALC Tournament at Homewood Field May 3-6. Instead of being awarded an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament for winning the regular season, an ACL team will have to win the tournament this year to get the bid.
Northwestern 6 6 - 12
Johns Hopkins 4 1 - 5
Goals: NW-Kjellman 5, Nielsen 4, Bowen 2, Spencer; JH- Schwarzmann 2, Key, Schrum, Nolan. Assists: NW-Nielsen 2, Bowen 2, Dowd; JH-Schwarzmann, Key. Saves: NW-Lathrop 11; JH-O'Ferrall 9.