The UAlbany women's lacrosse team's quest for an undefeated season ended on Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

Northwestern, the 5-time National Champions, defeated the Great Danes, 18-4.  It was UAlbany's first loss of the season.

Tewaaraton Award finalist Shannon Smith scored four of her five goals in the first half as the Wildcats jumped out to a convincing lead and advanced to semifinals for the seventh consecutive year.

It was the first loss of the season for UAlbany - the Great Danes finished with a school record 18 wins.

Northwestern (19-2) showed why they have won five national championships by playing a nearly perfect opening period.  Leading 2-1, the Wildcats ripped off five unanswered.

UAlbany came back with a pair of goals midway through the period.  Ariana Parker drove from the left to the middle and drilled a shot inside the post.  Allie Phelan then converted a free-position opportunity with a bounce shot from the right.

The Great Danes, who defeated Dartmouth in their first-ever NCAA appearance last week, were looking to cut into the lead even more, but NU goalkeeper Brianne LoManto thwarted Jodi Battaglia from point-blank range.  The Wildcats turned the save into a scoring play in transition.  Erin Fitzgerald eluded a triple-team in the middle of the field to beat goalkeeper Brett Yenger in a one-on-one situation.  The decisive sequence keyed a string of six consecutive goals.

Northwestern lead it 13-3 at halftime.

“We tried to prepare for their speed and intensity,” said UAlbany coach John Battaglino, who led the program to an America East Conference championship in his first season.  “It is hard to generate that in practice with just fifteen field players.  But that is the best that I have seen them play.  They capitalize on every mistake or error and our hats are off to them.”

Smith, one of five finalists for the nation’s top player award, finished with five goals and one assist for the nation’s second-ranked team.  Fitzgerald, who handed one assist and Rich each scored three times.  UAlbany’s Brett Yenger played the entire sixty minutes at goalkeeper and made five saves, as suspended starter Anna Berman did not make the trip.

UAlbany is the third America East Conference team to reach the NCAA quarterfinals.