Aggression served Michigan well en route to securing sole share of the 2007 Big Ten Championship. Michigan’s physical offense was too much for Northwestern’s defense.

With fewer than two minutes left in regulation, sophomore Kelly Fitzpatrick lifted a shot into the net, giving Michigan a 3-2 win over Northwestern on Sunday.

The win capped off a perfect conference season for Michigan (6-0 Big Ten, 13-4 overall) and clinched the Wolverines’ first conference title since 2004.

“We are the first team in a number of years to outwardly sweep the Big Ten,” Michigan coach Nancy Cox said. “It says a lot about the depth of our program. It’s great for our seniors, great for our team and it’s good for the future.”

It was clear early on the Wolverines were the instigators, collecting eight shots on goal in the first half.

Senior Ashley Lennington started the scoring when she found the back of the Northwestern cage, giving Michigan a 1-0 lead just more than three minutes into the game

“Getting the first goal was very important because it got the momentum going pretty fast,” senior co-captain Lucia Belassi said. “(The goal) helped the whole team play as one and keep the momentum for ourselves.”

The Wolverines’ forceful style of play helped establish the tempo of the match early. Unlike previous games this season, Michigan didn’t have to play from behind or need overtime.

The Wolverines’ assertive defense held the Wildcats in check, limiting their chances for much of the game. With sophomore Paige Pickett in goal, Northwestern (0-5 Big Ten, 4-11 overall) was held to just eight shots.

“Defense did awesome today,” Fitzpatrick said. “Their outletting was great, and they influenced how the midfields and forwards were moving.”

Lucia Belassi took advantage of the third of back-to-back-to-back corner shots late in the first half to regain the lead with more than five minutes left in the first half.

With the Big Ten season complete, Michigan will head out west for its final two games of the regular season. The Wolverines will play California on Saturday and Stanford on Sunday, and then head to Columbus on Nov. 1 for the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

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