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Nikki Boltja scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime, pushing the University of Louisville women’s lacrosse team past 10th-ranked Ohio State 11-10 on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament first round in Evanston, Ill.
Boltja finished with a game-high four goals along with three assists in helping Louisville (16-3) to not only its 12th-straight victory, but also the Cardinals’ first NCAA Tournament win in school history. The Cardinals advance to face No. 5-seed Northwestern on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the NCAA second round.
A Medina, Ohio, native, Boltja is solidifying her case for multiple accolades. Following her performance, she improved upon her existing single-season school record with 98 points. Her 71 goals this year are seven short of tying Bergan Foley’s single-season record of 78 goals (2010).
After Kaylin Morissette won her eighth draw control of the game in the second overtime session, Louisville quickly pushed the ball into Ohio State’s territory. Following the second of two Buckeyes fouls, Boltja drew a free-position attempt.
Without hesitation, the whistle blew and Boltja slotted the ball past Ohio State (13-7) goalkeeper Tori DeScenza from the near side to the far post for the game-winning score with 4:37 remaining in the sudden victory overtime.
“Even more so in that she’s so good at eight meters – when she got stuffed earlier in the game, she was remembering that,” head coach Kellie Young said. “She knew where not to put it. She’s a phenomenal shooter.
“I give this [Ohio State] goalie so much credit. She’s a phenomenal keeper and she still has a year left. She was definitely the anchor to their defense. We’ll regroup, get our shooting back on track, and be ready for Northwestern.”
The Cardinals’ goalkeeper Ashley Herbst, who improved to 11-3, also played a major role in the victory. After subbing in late in the second half, the senior played for the duration of the contest and made a huge save late in regulation and also collected a ground ball to preserve the win.
“I was nervous, physically for her, but absolutely comfortable in her ability to find the ball,” Young said.
“And we believe in Ashley Peacock. It’s her first NCAA game. We know there’s going to be some butterflies. We’ll assess tomorrow and see what we’re going to do Sunday. We have two great keepers who are great friends and great teammates, and we’ll make the best decision for the team.”
Louisville nearly had the game tucked away in the first overtime.
Cortnee Daley, with 1:13 remaining, scored the Cardinals’ go-ahead on a free-position shot that lifted Louisville to a 10-9 lead.
Louisville claimed possession on the restart, with Morissette collecting one of the team’s 16 draw controls. A turnover, though, by Colleen O’Malley with 38 seconds to go proved costly. Ohio State made its way into Louisville territory and the Buckeyes’ Katie Chase worked her way past the Louisville defense and netted the game-tying score with eight seconds remaining to force the extra time.
Ohio State built a two-goal lead after Kelsea Ayers’ score opened the period, but Cortnee Daley and Faye Brust responded each with goals to knot the game at seven apiece.
Neither defense was able to shut the opposing offense down for an extended length. The Buckeyes’ Jennifer Porretto capitalized on a free-position shot to gain an 8-7 advantage over the Cardinals.
Boltja found the back of the net with 14:51 left in the half to tie the game at eight before Ohio State re-claimed the lead. Boltja delivered the game-tying score with 5:54 remaining, and Louisville’s defense kept Ohio State at bay to dash the Buckeyes’ hopes of a regulation win.
The first half of the game featured a combined 11 goals, three within the first six minutes of the contest.
Boltja tallied the game’s first goal at the 29:13, but Ohio State responded a little more than a minute later. Boltja earned her first of three assists in the opening half after she found Laura Patterson from behind the cage to give the Cardinals a 2-1 advantage.
Ohio State notched two goals for its first lead of the game, but that was short-lived following scores by O’Malley and Brust. The Buckeyes rattled off three-unanswered scores, taking their largest lead of the game at 6-4, before Carissa Corbett took a pass from Boltja and drove it into the cage with 8:27 left in the first.
Both Patterson and Daley finished with four ground balls apiece, and Patterson tallied one of the team’s six caused turnovers.
Collectively, Louisville outshot Ohio State 28-14, finished with a 21-10 advantage in ground balls, and forced the Buckeyes into 16 turnovers.
The victory over the Buckeyes comes after the Cardinals fell at Ohio State 12-11 earlier this season in Columbus.
(From U of L Athletics)