Northwestern Routs UNC for 21-7 for 5th Consecutive NCAA Title.
The Wildcats celebrates their championship with their well-earned trophy. The Northwestern Wildcats routes the North Carolina Tar Heels 21-7 to capture their 5th consecutive National Championship at Johnny Unitas Stadium on May 24, 2009. Yuchen Nie/DC Sports Box
TOWSON, MD--Before the season even started, Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern’s star senior midfielder, joked with her teammates that the only thing that these seniors haven’t done in their star-studded career was to go undefeated. During the season though, the idea that they would go undefeated stayed strong with the team despite facing major obstacles, one of which included attack/midfielder Hilary Bowen tearing her ACL a little over a month ago. Rather than calling it quits for the rest of the season, Bowen, one of the best finishers in the country, wrapped her knee with bandages and a custom brace for every game and finished with five goals in the championship game.
In the semi-final game against Penn, the Wildcats struggled with shooting the ball and allowed the Penn Quakers to come back and tie it before the end of regulation. Then, if it were not for Katrina Dowd’s behind-the-back goal with less than a second remaining, the Wildcats may have never had a chance to reach the finals. This game however, the Wildcats focused on taking quality shots and implementing their full-field pressure defense.
Northwestern got off to a quick start by scoring two goals from Hilary Bowen and Mary Kate Casey to go up 2-0 in under three minutes. Then after four minutes of play, Megan Bosica drew a penalty within the 8-meter for a free-position shot. Bosica converted only to have Danielle Spencer slash through the Carolina defense minutes later to put Northwestern up by two goals.

On the ensuing draw, Danielle Spencer used their height advantage to snatch the ball out of the air and quickly dished it to Brooke Matthews, who is the fastest person on Northwestern’s squad. Matthews took less than 12 seconds to run from midfield to the opposing goal and fired a shot past Carolina goalie Logan Ripely to put the Wildcats up three. However, on the next possession, Cory Donohue would score on a free-position shot to cut the lead to two. Just when Carolina seem to have gotten comfortable with their opponent, the Tar Heels suddenly collapsed allowing Northwestern to go on a ridiculous 10-goal run in the last twenty minutes of the first half to put the game away. Carolina had absolutely no response to the onslaught of goals and struggled to even keep their heads up to fight off the frustration.
During this run, most of the goals scored were either done by dodging to the goal or Hannah Nielsen feeding from behind the net to one of their cutters. In fact, Hannah Nielsen would finish with no goals, but an eye-popping six assists as the Northwestern squad lit up the stats sheet. Also, the most impressive fact with the Wildcat’s first half run was that they scored 15 goals on only 17 shots meaning that almost all their shots were at point-blank range right in front of the cage.
In the second half, Northwestern continued their dominance by scoring the first four goals including two unassisted goals from Danielle Spencer. Spencer, who is listed at 6-2, used her size and surprising quickness to muscle her way to the cage, and she finished with four goals (all of them were unassisted) and an assist.
Finally, with the last 15 minutes of the game, Coach Hiller eased the offensive pressure and elected to play a game of keep-away for the remaining minutes under mercy-rule.
With this win, Northwestern wins their fifth consecutive national championship making them the second team in history to win five straight, and only two more short of Maryland’s seven-year championship record. Also, Coach Hiller has a winning percentage well above 95% giving her the NCAA record for the highest postseason winning percentage.