PHILADELPHIA - Northwestern ended Penn's dream season Friday, advancing to its third-straight NCAA women's lacrosse national championship game with a nearly flawless 12-2 win in front of 6,428 at Franklin Field.
The Quakers (16-2) saw their magical 2007 campaign come to end after playing in the first NCAA final four in program history.
The Wildcats (20-1) ran out to an 8-0 halftime lead, while Chrissy Muller and Becca Edwards scored for Penn in the second half.
In the late semifinal, Virginia staged a stunning comeback, scoring the final ten goals of the game to beat Duke 14-13. Northwestern will meet the Cavaliers for the national championship Sunday at 7 p.m. at Franklin Field.
Despite the loss, for Penn it was just as much about being at home in the final four as it was the pursuit of the national title.
“We have come a long, long way and it’s been a wonderful year for us,” said Head Coach Karin Brower, who saw her team improve from 10-6 last season to an NCAA semifinalist this year. “We are really proud that we made it here, and it is a dream come true for us to be in the Final Four.”
Senior tri-captain Sarah Eastburn, playing her final game in the Red and Blue, agreed.
“It has been a fantastic experience for all of us, especially the seniors,” Eastburn said. “We came into this program our freshman year with Karin sort of instilling in us that we could be here, we could win a championship.”
Northwestern executed its gameplan to perfection in the first half, scoring on practically every opportunity. Aly Josephs hit four of her five goals in the first period, including two to end the half.
Penn didn’t score until 16:29 left in the second half when Muller converted Kaitlyn Lombardo’s feed. By then, however, it was simply too late, and the Wildcats scored the next two before Edwards finished the scoring with 4:46 to go.
Penn was not without its scoring chances, hitting three posts and having two shots blocked. Morgan Lathrop played a gem for Northwestern, making seven saves.
The Quakers’ two goals marked their lowest offensive output since a 10-2 loss to Yale in 2001. Despite the lopsided score, the game was a statistical dead heat Northwestern led shots 21-20 and turnovers 17-16, and the two teams tied on ground balls (15) and draw controls (8).
Still, the opportunity and the uniqueness of playing in the NCAA championship on its home field was not lost on Brower and her team.
“Nobody thought we’d be in this tournament, let alone the Final Four. We set a standard for what we want Penn lacrosse to be.”