After 12 years of Northwestern women's lacrosse dominance over Penn State, the tables have officially turned in 2015. After coming to Evanston and winning for the first time in 18 matchups, 14-10 on April 19, the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions (13-4, 4-1 B1G) bested the ninth-ranked Wildcats (12-6, 3-2 B1G) for the second time this season in the B1G Tournament semifinals by a score of 13-10.
Penn State jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but four unanswered goals, capped off by superb line shot from senior Kara Mupo assisted by junior Christina Esposito, gave NU its first lead with 20 minutes left in the half. The Nittany Lions answered with four straight goals of their own, however, and never trailed again. They held an 8-6 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half, the 'Cats cut the deficit to as few as one on two separate occasions, but Penn State held firm and stifled NU's hopes, making a 3-0 run over 15 minutes of game clock up to the five minute mark, when they led 13-9. Northwestern did not score over a 19 minute stretch starting at the 20 minute mark, and by the time sophomore Sheila Nesselbush ended the drought with an unassisted, the game was well out of hand.
Junior Kaleigh Craig led all players with four goals, and Mupo added three. Although NU beat PSU on draw controls 16-9, the Nittany Lions goalkeeper Emi Smith's seven saves kept the 'Cats from cutting into the PSU lead in crunch time.
Although Northwestern did not earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, by virtue of its top ten ranking and solid overall season, the 'Cats will likely be back in familiar territory next weekend when the 26-team Big Dance begins. NU will learn its specific fate at the end of the weekend, and may host a first round game on Friday, May 8.