Wildcats Win Double-Overtime Thriller Against Virginia, 4-3

Sept. 11, 2005

EVANSTON, Ill. Excitement filled the air and emotions ran high as Northwestern's field hockey team pulled out a 4-3 double-overtime thriller against Virginia Sunday, Sept. 11. Ellen Schlafly (St. Louis, Mo./MICDS) scored her second goal of the day at 94:37 on a rebound following a Wildcat penalty corner, improving the Wildcats, record to 4-1.

While it took almost 15 minutes for the Wildcats to put their first shot on goal, it was Northwestern sophomore Noreen Stewart (Farmington, Conn./Farmington) who lit up the board first. As the `Cats were down on offense, Stewart got a hold of the ball deep into the circle. After her first attempt was swatted away by Virginia goalkeeper Katherine Blair, Stewart got her stick on the rebound and sent it past Blair to make it 1-0 Wildcats.

At.22:13, however, Virginia tied the game. Following a Virginia penalty corner shot, that was saved by NU goalkeeper Sherri-Anne Nyberg (Kelowna, British Columbia/Kelowna Secondary), Cavaliers' forward midfielder Mia Link rebounded the ball and put it past Nyberg to make it 1-1.

Nine minutes later, Schlafly scored her first goal on the day. From about 10 yards out, Schlafly had a clear look at the Virginia goal. With no defenders in line to knock the ball away, Schlafly rocketed a shot passed Blair's left side, making it 2-1 Northwestern.

A defensive battle ensued and lasted for the next 13:15. The teams went into the break with the score 2-1.

Coming out of halftime, the strategy was simple for Northwestern. Continue to put pressure on the Cavaliers defensively while staying aggressive on offense. At first, this is exactly what the Wildcats did.

Wildcats' senior Holly Palin (Mequon, Wis./University School of Milwaukee) was the first to score in the second period. In the game's 38th minute, Palin showcased some impressive ballhandling skills as she maneuvered past multiple Cavalier defenders and got deep into the circle. Once there, Palin slid it past the Blair's left side, making it a 3-1 game.


As time continued to wind down, Virginia's intensity picked up. The cavaliers notched 12 shots during the second period. Nyberg, who tallied five of her 13 saves in the second period, was able to stifle most of the Cavaliers' offensive threats. But on a penalty corner, Virginia senior Katie Phillips received a pass from the stopper Sarah Miller, and put one past Nyberg to cut the Northwestern lead to one.

The game's momentum took a huge swing at 20:39, as Schlafly was given a yellow card. Even with one player down, the Wildcats were able to hold Virginia for most of Schlafly's penalty. But at 54:21, seconds before Schlafly was set to return to action, Phillips struck again. On another penalty corner, Phillips took the pass, this time beating Nyberg high, and tying the match at 3.

With eight minutes remaining, Nyberg made an incredible save that very well may have saved the game for the Wildcats. As Virginia worked the ball deep into the left side of the circle, a Cavalier sent a shot wide right. Another Virginia player positioned near the right post was able to gather the errant shot and it looked like she was score easily, as Nyberg was still near the left side of the goal. As the second shot headed towards the goal, Nyberg dove towards it and was able to deflect it away.

The match would end tied at 3, and after the first overtime session was scoreless, the two teams headed into double overtime.

Exhausted from the heat and fast-paced six-on-six overtime play, the Wildcats were able to tally five shots during the last overtime period. In the 94th minute, Northwestern was awarded a penalty corner. Blair saved the initial shot, but Schlafly was right there for the rebound and sent the NU bench and crowd into a frenzy by scoring her second goal of the day at 94:37.

"Our team was unbelievable today," head coach Kelly McCollum said following the win. "We stuck to our game plan and executed. Our fitness, speed and depth let us come out on top."

With the victory, the Wildcats improve their record to 4-1. Northwestern will be back in action at noon on Friday, Sept. 16 against Ball State.

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Ellen Schlafly (pictured) scored the match winning goal in double overtime.
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