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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The 14th-ranked Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team scored the final five goals of the game to down No. 12 Northwestern, 17-13, on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon at Penn State Lacrosse Field. Five Nittany Lions scored multiple goals, three of them tallied four times led by senior Madison Cyr (Westminster, Md.) who had tallied a game-high seven points.
"We got today's win from a variety of areas," head coach Missy Doherty said. "Emi Smith made some big saves. Then we got it from putting our shots away at the end of the game. It's good to see us capture that kind of momentum and make some big plays when it counted."
A back-and-forth battle saw Penn State (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten) built an 11-9 lead with 21:28 to play before a 4-1 run by Northwestern (7-8, 2-2 Big Ten) had PSU down 13-12 with 9:15 to go.
Senior Jenna Mosketti (Fallston, Md.) scored on a Cyr feed to create the game's 10th tie of the game before Cyr's go-ahead goal from Steph Lazo (Stevensville, Md.) pushed PSU ahead for good with 4:54 remaining on the game's 11th lead change. Lazo finished with six points on three goals and three assists.
Katie O'Donnell (West Chester, Pa.) scored her fourth of the day by dashing down the middle of the NU defense to score 90 seconds later to give PSU a 15-13 advantage. Lazo converted a draw control win 22 seconds later for the largest lead of the game, 16-13, before Madison Carter's (Davidsonville, Md.) fourth goal of the game sealed the final score line.
The emotional game saw two even teams throw haymakers time and time again. Little in the way of runs was evident as the lead was never more than two goals until the final minutes. Penn State out-shot Northwestern 35-26 and out-scored the Wildcats 10-6 in the second half.
Key to the Penn State victory was a 20-11 margin in draw controls as well as committing only nine turnovers the whole game. PSU had only two in the second half.
In the first half that ended 7-7, Northwestern had a 3-0 run over a four-minute span for a 5-3 lead. Penn State had its own 3-0 run later on with goals by O'Donnell, Carter and Lazo to give the Nittany Lions the lead, 7-6, before a Christina Esposito tally sent the teams to the locker room knotted up. Esposito had a team-high four goals.
In the second, PSU and NU traded goals to 9-9 before O'Donnell and Cyr connected for an 11-9 lead with 21:28, setting up Northwestern's 4-1 spurt. Penn State's momentum down the stretch was helped by key draw controls and timely scoring. Carter had a career-high nine draw controls in the game to lead all players.
Senior goalie Emi Smith (Denver, Colo.) made nine saves to improve to 10-4 on the season. Smith, Cyr, Mosketti and fellow classmates Ally Heavens (Garnet Valley, Pa.), Heather Harman (Alpharetta, Ga.) and student manager Ben Rivera were honored prior to the game.
Madison Cyr has scored in every game this season and is currently on a 24-game scoring streak dating back to last year. This season, Cyr has tallied at least two points in every game and has 10 hat tricks.
Cyr's four goals bring her career total to 142 which has her in a tie for 8th all-time at Penn State with Michele DeJuliis (1994-97).
Cyr matched her career-high with seven points today set March 16 vs. Princeton. Her seven points brought her career total to 179 for 15th all-time at Penn State. Cyr notched her first 60-point season of her career on Saturday. The three assists match her career high set Feb. 12 at Lehigh.
Penn State won its third straight game against Northwestern, its longest such streak against the Wildcats. Prior to the 3-0 run, NU had won 18 straight games. Penn State has won all three games by at least three goals. PSU is now 7-19 all-time against Northwestern.
Madison Carter notched her fifth game this season with at least four goals. Carter has scored in 14 of 15 games this season. Carter now has 38 goals this season.
Katie O'Donnell notched her seventh game with at least three goals this season. O'Donnell has 35 this season, which eclipses her total of 31 from her freshman campaign, which was accomplished in 21 games.
With Penn State's win, the Nittany Lions are in sole position of second place in the Big Ten heading into the final weekend of the season. Maryland is 4-0 and visits Penn State on Thursday, where a win would give PSU a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. Northwestern (2-2) heads to Ohio State (2-2) while Rutgers (1-3) hosts Michigan (0-4). A Penn State victory or a Northwestern win at OSU would assure the Nittany Lions a bye to the Big Ten Semifinals. A Penn State loss and an Ohio State victory would give OSU the No. 2 seed and PSU the No. 3 seed.
NEXT TIME OUT
Penn State hosts No. 1 Maryland for a crucial Thursday night battle at 7 p.m. For the second straight season, the winner of the Penn State-Maryland game will be crowned Big Ten regular-season champion. The game will be televised live on Big Ten Network and BTN2Go.