Amonte-Hiller gets 200th win as Northwestern beats BC

Amonte-Hiller gets 200th win as Northwestern beats BC

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EVANSTON, Ill. -- One day after seven inches of snow fell in Evanston, No. 4 Northwestern women's lacrosse rode an avalanche of nine straight first-half goals to a 17-10 victory over Boston College in its 2013 home-opener Wednesday at Lakeside Field. With the victory, 12th-year Wildcats head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller became the ninth active coach in NCAA women's lacrosse to reach 200 coaching wins for her career (200-31).

Northwestern senior All-American attacker Erin Fitzgerald tied a career best set twice before with her team-high five goals on the evening and also set a career high with four caused turnovers. Defensively, senior Gabriella Flibotte put forth a tremendous effort by setting career highs with six caused turnovers -- tied for second-most in a single game in Wildcats history -- and five ground balls. 

Flibotte (4), Alyssa Leonard (4) and Taylor Thornton (5) accounted for all 16 of Northwestern's draw controls on the evening, with NU holding a 16-12 edge over the visiting Eagles.

After the game, Amonte Hiller asked if it was fitting that her 200th win as coach of the 'Cats came with a four-foot high pile of snow ringing Lakeside Field and temperatures that had fallen below freezing shortly after the opening draw.

"That's why I love this place," Amonte Hiller said with a smile. "You have to be tough to play here. You have to be strong, mentally and physically."

Through most of the first half, Northwestern looked as strong on both ends of the field as it has thus far in the 2013 season. After the Eagles' leading scorer, sophomore Covie Stanwick, recorded the first point of the night just under three minutes into the game, senior Amanda Macaluso scored the first of nine consecutive Wildcats goals with a successful right-to-left dodge across the fan.

Leonard followed suit by creating her own goal three minutes later, before Macaluso notched her second of the night and 10th of the season with an aggressive left-handed dodge that began as far back as the restraining line.

Fitzgerald then went to work for NU, earning and converting an 8-meter opportunity and making it two in a row by switching off to her left hand and scoring in front of the cage to make it 5-1 Wildcats at the 17:23 mark.

With Flibotte and the Northwestern defense doing their part at the other end, Macaluso extended the advantage to five with her third unassisted score of the evening. Sophomore Brooks Lawler scored off the free position two minutes later, and one goal each from Fitzgerald and Flibotte escalated Northwestern's lead to an impressive 9-1 with 4:38 left before halftime.

Boston College scored once on either side of the intermission to pull within 9-3, but another dodging score by Fitzgerald and a successful 8-meter attempt by Nancy Dunbar -- the first career shot and goal for the freshman midfielder -- returned the hosts' advantage to eight goals early in the period.

The Eagles managed to score three of the next four to make it a 12- 6 ballgame -- with the lone NU tally in the stretch coming from junior Kelly Rich on her 21st birthday -- before freshman Christina Esposito stemmed the tide with a goal off a feed by Macaluso. Esposito then set up Christy Turner for a goal and, by the time Fitzgerald and Lawler found the back of the net for the Wildcats over the next three minutes, the lead had ballooned back to 10 at 16-6.

Boston College's Kate Rich -- younger sister of the aforementioned NU attacker Kelly Rich -- scored twice for the Eagles down the stretch before Northwestern sophomore Paige Jones broke into the scoring column for the first time in her career with an 8-meter goal with 17 seconds remaining.

Sophomore goalkeeper Bridget Bianco was stellar between the pipes for the Wildcats, recording nine saves compared to eight goals against before being relieved late in the game by classmate Brooke Jones.

Stanwick finished with four goals to pace the Eagles, whose coaching staff boasts two branches in Amonte Hiller's impressive coaching tree -- head coach Acacia Walker, an assistant for three years under Amonte Hiller from 2006-09, and assistant coach Alex Frank, a 2012 NU graduate who served as team captain of back-to-back NCAA championship-winning Northwestern teams. 

Up next for the Wildcats is a return trip to the East Coast, where Northwestern will face 12th-ranked Johns Hopkins at 11 a.m. CT Saturday before heading to Annapolis to take on Navy at 3 p.m. CT Monday. That game will be carried live to a national audience on CBS Sports Network.

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