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Northwestern falls in double-OT heartbreaker

Kat DeRonda is trying her best to play the hero for No. 5 Northwestern, but even she needs a little help.

Despite the attacker’s four goals and two assists, the Wildcats couldn’t overcome a resilient Johns Hopkins team and fell to the Blue Jays in double-overtime, 12-11.

No. 13 Johns Hopkins netted a goal with 49 seconds left in regulation to tie it up at 10 and send the game to overtime.

A thick fog settled over the field and the rain began to pour as the teams took the field for the extra period. The Blue Jays struck first on a short-range shot with 27 seconds left before the end of the first period of the first overtime. With about two minutes left in the second half of the first overtime, DeRonda found a cutting Kelly Rich in front of the goal, and Rich hit the shot over the goalie’s shoulder to tie the game.

NU had one more promising shot before the end of the period, but Johns Hopkins goalie Caroline Federico snagged the ball out of the air to send the game to sudden death double-overtime.

The Blue Jays had a chance to end the game in the first period of the second overtime, but the shot went off the crossbar and NU goalie Bridget Bianco was able to corral the loose ball and send it upfield.

In the second half of the second overtime, the Cats weren’t so lucky.

They were already missing Alyssa Leonard, who had gotten yellow card at the end of the first period of the second overtime. NU lost the draw control, and Johns Hopkins had a lengthy offensive possession before Dene’ DiMartino cut into the fan, dove across the goal, and scored the winning shot from her knees.

“I think we should have done a lot of things better,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “Obviously Hopkins is a great team and they had a great win tonight, but our discipline was very lacking.”

The Cats particularly struggled all game with draw controls. They won 15 of them compared to Johns Hopkins 13 but failed to corral them when they needed it most.

“We’ve got to be able to come up with draw controls,” Amonte Hiller said. “If Alyssa’s not popping, then we have to be able to come up with the 50-50 balls and we didn’t do that tonight, or last game.”

NU got out to an early 3-0 lead but with less than 13 minutes left in the first half, Johns Hopkins had battled back to tie the game at 4. The teams traded goals for the rest of the half and went into halftime tied, 6-6.

The trend continued in the second period until the Blue Jays finally grabbed some of the momentum and took their first lead on the game, 9-8, on a free position shot with 17:38 left.

DeRonda, who now has 13 goals in her last four games, came to the rescue for the Cats as she picked up a loose ball at midfield, sprinted toward the goal, and shot from about five meters out, bringing the game back to a tie.

The Cats took the lead on a free position shot by Kaleigh Craig with seven minutes left and nearly ran the clock out, but the Blue Jays tied the game with 49 seconds left to lead to the overtime periods.

“We had shots, we had opportunities, but we had mental lapses, we had shots into the goalie’s sticks, so we have to sort that out if we want to beat them,” Amonte Hiller said.

NU has a week to rebound. They take on No. 4 Florida at home next Saturday, the teams’ last matchup as ALC rivals before NU heads to the new Big Ten Conference next season. The Gators have beaten the Cats four times with Amonte Hiller at the helm, tied with North Carolina for the most wins against the 13-year head coach.