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Sunday, May 27, 2007
Bowen's five goals lift Wildcats to third straight NCAA title

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Hilary Bowen helped top-seeded Northwestern become the second team in NCAA history to win three consecutive Division I women's lacrosse national championships, scoring five goals in a 15-13 victory over second-seeded Virginia on Sunday night.

The Wildcats (21-1), perfect since a 9-8 loss in double-overtime in the season opener at North Carolina, joined Maryland as the only schools to win at least three straight titles. Maryland won seven championships in a row from 1995-01.

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"We are just so excited," Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. "This is something that we've wanted all year long. This senior class has wanted it more than ever."

Katrina Dowd scored three goals, and Meredith Frank and Aly Josephs added two goals each for Northwestern, which improved to 62-2 over the last three seasons.

"The upperclassmen gave me the confidence to do it," said Dowd, a freshman who had scored just 14 goals all season. "They said, 'Dont be scared. Dont be shy.' I just shot the ball at goal and put it away."

Unlike their easy 12-2 semifinal win over Pennsylvania, the Wildcats had to hold off the surging Cavaliers (19-4).

Northwestern built an 11-5 lead in the first half and saw it dwindle from there. Virginia got within 14-13 with 10:21 remaining on Megan OMalley's third goal of the game. Dowd responded more than 8 minutes later to put the game away for the Wildcats, who won their 12th consecutive NCAA tournament game.

"I kind of had a feeling today was going to be hard-fought," Hiller said. "When you've been here before, people are gunning [for you]."

Ashley McCulloch, Kaitlin Duff and Megan Havrilla had two goals apiece for the Cavaliers, who lost to Northwestern, 13-10, in the 2005 title game.

"It's been a great experience," Havrilla said.

Virginia overcame a nine-goal deficit in its 14-13 semifinal win over Duke, the largest comeback in the NCAA championship history. The Cavaliers' 19 victories tied a school record, originally set in 2004 when they won the national championship.

"For this year's team, I cannot be more proud," Virginia coach Julie Myers said. "The character on this team is amazing."