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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Freshman Maria Auth (Street, Md.) tied a career-high with four points and junior Maggie Gallagher (Bel Air, Md.) secured her first career hat trick, but it was not enough as second-seeded Penn State was defeated by No. 3 Northwestern, 12-11, in Big Ten semifinal action this evening from the field hockey and lacrosse complex on the campus of Maryland.
The Wildcats improve to 10-8 on the season and advance to Sunday’s Big Ten Championship game against top-seeded Maryland while the Nittany Lions fall to 15-3 and will await an at-large bid to next week’s NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats opened the scoring just 52 seconds into the game as Catie Ingrilli found the back of the net for the 1-0 edge before Gallagher received a feed from senior Steph Lazo (Stevensville, Md.) and was able to finish going away from the goal for the 1-1 tie at the 27:59 mark.
Northwestern then got back-to-back tallies just 70 seconds apart for the 3-1 lead and the teams then began to trade goals before the Nittany Lions potted a two-in-a-row as senior’s Shelby Wells (Timonium, Md.) and Taylor Bleistein (Bayville, N.Y.) scored at 18:10 and 13:19, respectively, for the 5-5 tie.
Junior Katie O’Donnell (West Chester, Pa.) then sandwiched a goal between a pair of scores by the Wildcats for the 7-6 score heading into the intermission. The skies then opened and a 90 minute delay followed during halftime.
Coming out of the extended break Northwestern potted the first goal of the second half at the 28:58 mark as Ingrilli found the back of the cage and the teams once again traded a few goals before the Lions used back-to-back scores just 12 ticks apart to tie the score, 9-9, at the 22:40 mark.
Junior Kayla Brisolari (Crofton, Md.) found the back of the net on a free-position before Auth caused a turnover and found Gallagher in transition for the equalizer.
The Cats then scored the next two goals before Bleistein found the back of the cage again on the free-position at the 7:21 mark and Gallagher tipped the hat trick off a feed from O’Donnell at 4:17 for the 11-11 score.
Both teams played tough defense down the stretch and after a huge save by senior Cat Rainone (Newtown Square, Pa.) gave Penn State possession, the Wildcats swarmed with defense and caused a turnover.
Megan Kinna intercepted the ball and came in one-on-one against Rainone and beat her to the left side high for the game-winning goal and 12-11 score with just 59 seconds remaining in the contest.
Rainone falls to 14-3 on the season after collecting 11 saves while her counterpart, Mallory Weisse also stopped 11 shots to improve to 10-8 on the season.
O’Donnell finished with a pair of goals and one assist for three points while Lazo added a pair of assists and Bleistein scored twice to round out the multi-point scorers for the Nittany Lions.
Each team took 26 shots, but Northwestern controlled possession holding the 17-12 advantage in ground balls and the commanding 18-7 edge on the draw.