Northwestern Women’s Lax Rallies To Beat Ohio State, 13-12 (OT)

By Hayden Bird

FOXBOROUGH, MA – The defending National Champion Northwestern women’s lacrosse team finally found their offense against conference rivals Ohio State Saturday afternoon, and it was just in time to pull out a 13-12 comeback win before a roaring crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The game was one of 2012’s best so far. And it even ventured into overtime following a dramatic last-gasp goal from Northwestern junior Erin Fitzgerald.

It began as an unmitigated shootout, with both teams trading goal after goal. In fact, neither side could claim more than a one goal lead for the entire first half.

“Their goalie played amazing, she was awesome and a lot of the shots we took she just came up with big saves,” noted Northwestern senior Alex Frank afterwards.

And Ohio State’s talented freshman goalie, Tori DeScenza, did everything she could to help the 14th ranked Buckeyes upset number one Northwestern. Making 16 saves; she was far busier than her opponent.

Yet it was the Buckeyes who were the first team to truly seize the initiative, at least for a period of time.

Starting with 10 minutes to go in the first half and lasting until just inside the 20 minute mark of the second half, Ohio State went on a 7-2 run which culminated in team points leader Alayna Markwordt assisting Kirsten Donahue to give her team an 11-7 lead.

“Towards the beginning of the second half we made some careless mistakes,” said Northwestern Head Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. “They caused some great turnovers and Ohio State was really able to capitalize on the opportunities that they had.”

At that moment in the second half, it certainly seemed like an upset was in the air. Yet Northwestern, led by Amonte Hiller, have never been the type to give up.

“When we got ourselves in a hole, we got pretty motivated,” Amonte Hiller asserted. “And some of our players really stepped up and made big plays.”

The comeback didn’t really get underway for almost five minutes after Donahue’s goal however (an eternity in lacrosse time).

And even after the momentum began to swing in their favor and Fitzgerald scored with just over nine minutes remaining to cut the deficit to one (11-10), the Wildcats could not muster the actual tying goal until there was seemingly no time left on the clock.

Unfortunately for Ohio State though, Northwestern finally did score. After a series of penalties, Fitzgerald once again netted for Northwestern, and their fans predictably went wild. With only 19 seconds remaining, it capped off the momentum shift that had slowly but surely slipped away from Ohio State.

Once in overtime, Northwestern’s defending Tewaaraton Award-winner Shannon Smith came to life. As her team’s leader in goals and points, it was little surprise that in clutch time she was the one who delivered.

Scoring two consecutive goals (including one unassisted), Smith helped to put the game beyond reach.

Even still, Ohio State never quit. They scored on a beautifully executed breakaway as Cara Facchina found Jackie Cifarelli with 1:46 left in overtime to make the climax of the game that much more exciting. Yet, a series of penalties cost the Buckeyes and in the end, the Northwestern powerhouse survived, bringing their record to an impressive 10-0.

And for Amonte Hiller, it was a result that wasn’t great, but good enough.

“We didn’t make it pretty” she added with a wry smile, “but we did it.”

Mass College Baseball Recap: VCU 8, Northeastern 2

By Elizabeth Thomas 

BROOKLINE, MA- For the second day in a row, Northeastern University’s baseball team fell to conference foe Virginia Commonwealth, 8-2.

“(These are) two disappointing losses, but we can’t get discouraged by it. We’ve played very well all season and I expect us to continue to play the same and win [on Sunday],” said Northeastern head coach Neil McPhee. “The conference is very good, [and] every game the expectation is to go out there and play solid baseball”

Northeastern junior pitcher Dylan Maki made his first start since March 17, going five and a third innings, and allowing five earned runs on 11 hits, while VCU junior Ryan Farrar earned his third win going six innings and allowing two earned runs on just four hits.

“He (Maki) has been on a limited pitch count the last couple of weeks due to the tenderness in his arm, [and] under normal circumstances we would have left him in there,” said McPhee. “He actually threw the ball very well, they squared up the ball pretty well on him in that inning a couple of times, but his velocity was very good and his movement was still very good.”

Maki encountered some trouble early in the first frame after VCU sophomore infielder Joey Cujas drove in his team’s first run. Maki recovered a few seconds later after senior Taylor Perkins hit a chopper back to the mound, which initiated the final two outs.

Northeastern evened the score in the bottom of the fifth inning when sophomore Aaron Barbosa recorded an RBI after grounding out to shortstop, which sent freshman Alex McKeon to the dish.

VCU’s bats exploded on the ensuing offensive possession by posting six more runs, which gave the Rams a comfortable 7-1 cushion. Northeastern attempted to chip away at the deficit in the bottom half of the same inning, but only mustered one run when freshman Jason Vosler drove home junior Jon Leroux.

The Rams then secured their second win of the three-game series in the top of the seventh when junior Taylor Buran hit a solo home run, which padded VCU’s lead for good.

“If we continue to play as well as we’ve been playing all year long, we will win a lot of ball games with this team and expect to go into the tournament,” said McPhee.

Both teams will return to the diamond on Sunday, April 1, at 1:00pm.

Mass College Lax Recap: Syracuse 10, Harvard 6

By Matt Noonan

FOXBOROUGH, MA – The Syracuse University women’s lacrosse team needed less than 20 seconds to net their first strike of the afternoon, as the Orange defeated Harvard University at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, 10-6.

Sophomore Alyssa Murray, (four goals, one assist) led the charge with four goals, while sophomore Katie Webster, (three goals) notched three strikes in the team’s sixth win of the season.

“It was a good win, it wasn’t our best effort of the year, but it was solid and we did what we needed to do to have success,” Syracuse head coach Gary Gait said.

“I just tried to do my best, score on the opportunities that I got and really communicate with the rest of the offense to keep it flowing,” said Murray, who’s the team’s current leading goal scorer. “Once we got rolling it really went a lot easier, and we started to get a lot of more easy goals.”

Senior Sarah Holden provided the Orange an early one-goal lead before Harvard answered when senior Melanie Baskind, (three goals, two assists) connected with sophomore Jenn Leffew, which evened the score at 1-1.

The Orange offense responded seven minutes later by spouting off five goals before the Crimson closed the opening half with a goal by sophomore Chelsey Newman.

“We just wanted to go into the halftime down by four versus down by five, and then we wanted to kill the clock and have a good opportunity at the end and to be able to go in by four,” said Harvard head coach Lisa Miller. “Lacrosse is a game of runs – you’re down by three or four [or] even five – it’s not something you should worry about because you can tag a couple goals together, so we just wanted to score going into the locker room.”

Harvard built off Newman’s goal once the second session began, as Baskind registered three consecutive strikes, which pulled the Crimson to within two points.

Although, Syracuse’s offense regrouped, and pulled away for good, as Murray and Webster combined for the team’s three final goals, which preserved their second victory against an unranked opponent this season.

“We’re starting a run of tough games coming up, and this was key to make sure we didn’t slip and make any mistakes,” said Gait. “They answered the challenge [against] a good solid, young Harvard team.”

Despite the loss, Harvard’s Melanie Baskind’s two assists matched her career high against Stanford last week.

“We moved her back into the midfield and I think she gets her energy from running up and down,” Miller said. “We’ve moved her back down behind the crease recently just because we’ve had so many injuries and we’re banged up, but you let her run a little bit, she gets up top and she gets a little room and she’s going to get a shot off. She’s [certainly] competitive and [was] definitely trying to pull us back into [the game].”

Busy Day For The New England Patriots

The New England Patriots re-signed Deion Branch to a one-year contract on Friday! (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s been a busy day for the local professional pigskin squad, as the New England Patriots re-signed wide receiver Deion Branch to a one-year contract.

Branch, who will enter his seventh season with New England, has played in 130 games and started 107 of them, as well as recorded 502 receptions for 6,499 yards and 39 touchdowns in 11 seasons.

This past year, Branch started 15 games and tallied 51 receptions for 702 yards and five touchdowns.

Also on Friday, the Patriots signed free agent Tony Fiammetta and unrestricted free agent Spencer Larsen.

Fiammetta has played three seasons in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, (2009-2010) and Dallas Cowboys (2011), while Larsen spent the last four seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Daily Noontime – March 30, 2012

Brooks Laich netted the game winning goal on Thursday, which helped Washington escape Causeway Street, 3-2! (Photo Credit: Boston Globe/Barry Chin)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Friday, and while we don’t need to break out into song and dance, let’s instead dish out some headlines and news from the Hub!

* Despite rallying to tie the game, Washington’s Brooks Laich netted the game winning shootout goal, which helped the Capitals defeat the Boston Bruins on Thursday, 3-2. Tim Thomas recorded 21 saves between the pipes, and held Washington scoreless for the first two frames. Had Boston won, they would have clinched a playoff spot, but luckily, the Black and Gold will return to the ice on Saturday when they travel to Long Island to face the New York Islanders.

Bobby Valentine told the media on Thursday that he’s expecting Carl Crawford to begin the season on a rehab assignment. The left fielder underwent wrist surgery this past offseason, and has taken part in bunting drills with the team. However, Valentine doesn’t believe he’ll be able to face living pitching until he possibly experiences “50 at-bats somewhere.”

* The Boston Celtics will return to the hardwood on Friday when they travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00pm.

* Celtics President Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI on Thursday, and told The Big Show that he’s not planning on forcing Mickael Pietrus to get back on the court. He’s expected to return to the lineup soon, but according to reports, the Celtics should have more information on his concussion he sustained last week in Philadelphia.