Women's lacrosse: No. 2 seed in NCAA tournament (Updated)

After winning their fifth straight American Lacrosse Conference tournament championship on Saturday with a 10-9 come-from-behind win against Florida, the Wildcats learned today they'll be the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. NU (17-2) will host Boston College (12-6), the No. 15 seed, at 3 p.m. CT Saturday.

NU will be looking to win its sixth NCAA title in seven years. Defending champion Maryland, who knocked off NU in last year's NCAA championship game, is the No. 1 seed. North Carolina and Florida round out the top four seeds.

The other pairing in the Wildcats’ end of the 16-team bracket is No 7 seed Albany, which went 17-0, albeit against a weak schedule, and Dartmouth (11-4), which gave Maryland its only loss of the season last weekend.  Albany and Dartmouth will meet on Sunday. The Final Four is May 27-29 in Stony Brook, N.Y.

To earn their No. 2 seed, the Wildcats first took care of business in the ALC tournament. After a bye in the first round, NU demolished Penn State, 14-3, in the second round on Friday. Then, on Saturday came the dramatic win against Florida, which had won the ALC regular season title and given the Wildcats their first loss of the season in April.

Saturday’s rematch looked to be going the Gators’ way, as well. NU trailed, 8-5, with about 13 minutes to go in the game, but then came a furious rally, as the Wildcats went on a 5-0 run. Florida scored a goal with 1:25 left to bring the score to 10-9 Wildcats, and won the ensuing draw to set up for the potential game-tying goal.

But holy ghost of Marty McSorley, NU head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller called for a stick check on ALC Player of the Year Kitty Cullen, and lo and behold, her stick pocket was found to be too deep. The call gave possession back to the ‘Cats, who then ran out the clock.

Shannon Smith, who despite being the NCAA’s leading scorer was snubbed in the ALC Player of the Year voting, scored five goals against Florida, on top of the five goals she had against Penn State. (Cullen, incidentally, was held to 0 goals and 1 assist.)  Alyssa Leonard, named the ALC Rookie of the Year, had nine draw controls on the day; as a team, Florida had eight.

The championship meant that NU has been the ALC’s only conference tournament champion since the league began holding a season-ending tournament to decide its automatic NCAA qualifier five years ago.

We’ll have plenty more later this week previewing NU’s first-round matchup against the Terriers, who were an at-large selection out of the Atlantic Coast Conference and are ranked 12th.

Congrats to the Wildcat players and coaching staff. Now the hard part really begins.

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