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Fall/Winter Sports: Weekend Wrap, 11/14

While our football and men's basketball teams spent the weekend putting up pedestrian wins over pedestrian non-conference opponents from Texas, we won a Big Ten title and clinched an NCAA bid!  In men's soccer! 

As Rodger recapped Sunday afternoon, NU (11-4-5) came back against Penn State for a 2-1 win in the Big Ten tournament title match, the first championship in the program's history. The NCAA is scheduled to release its tournament bracket in about half an hour. [see above post] We'll have a full preview of the first-round match later this week, as we follow the team through the postseason.

Earlier last week, NU picked up a host of awards from the conference, with head coach Tim Lenahan earning Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, while senior forward Oliver Kupe, who led the team with seven goals, was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. Freshman goalkeeper Tyler Miller, who posted nine shutouts, was also named first-team All-Big Ten, while midfielders Lepe Seetane and Chris Ritter and defender Nikko Boxall were second-teamers.

On to the other sports after the jump.

Women's Basketball: The Wildcats opened the season on the road at Central Michigan on Friday and came away with a 69-60 win. Junior forward Kendall Hackney led all scorers with 18 points, and also came down with eight rebounds. Senior forward Brittany Orban chipped in 16 points and six boards.

Overall, it wasn't a great shooting night by the Wildcats, as they made just 37.7% of their shots. Freshman Morgan Jones had a rough debut, going 5-for-18 from the field, though she finished with 12 points. Junior Dannielle Diamant, given the first opportunity to replace now-graduated Amy Jaeschke at center, went 2-for-8, for five points.

Freshman Karly Roser, who was probably the least heralded of the three recruits, has been a revelation in the early going. She got the start at point guard, and scored 10 points, with eight assists and five steals, though she also had seven turnovers. Junior guard Tailor Jones got 23 minutes off the bench and got seven rebounds, but turned the ball over five times. Turnovers were a major problem for the team last year, so this stat will bear watching.

After head coach Joe McKeown talked a lot in the preseason about the improved depth of his team, only the six players listed above got major action.  Freshman Alex Cohen and sophomore Meghan McKeown got in for six minutes each, but the other five players all sat out.  Part of this was due to injury: senior guard Allison Mocchi and junior forward Kate Popovic are a little banged up.  Not sure about the rest.

The Wildcats will open their home season tomorrow against Western Kentucky at 7 p.m. CT. NU will also host Illinois State on Thursday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Volleyball: It was a crazy weekend in Evanston, as the Wildcats on Friday upset No. 22 Ohio State in what has to be one of the whackiest endings to a match ever (highlights in the video below), and then got completely dominated by No. 8 Penn State on Saturday.

Against Ohio State, the Wildcats and Buckeyes had battled to a fifth set. NU had match point, leading 14-13.  Freshman Caroline Niedospial stepped up to serve, and as she struck the ball, the lights at Welsh-Ryan Arena went out, thanks to a power outage in the area.  After a 21-minute delay, power was restored, Niedospial stepped up to serve again, and promptly delivered an ace to seal the match. Junior libero Julie Chin had a career-high 29 digs, and sophomore hitter Stephanie Holtus put down 25 kills.

Against Penn State, the Nittany Lions showed why they are the four-time defending national champions, completely blowing out NU, 3-0. The Wildcats were never competitive in this one. But hey, I got a free t-shirt out of going, so for me, it wasn't a total loss. 

NU now sits at 15-11 overall, 6-10 in the Big Ten. Four matches remain: at No. 23 Michigan, at Michigan State, at No. 7 Illinois, and home against No. 4 Nebraska. NU will likely need to win out to make the NCAA tournament, no biggie.  The Wildcats have come on strong in the second half of the season, after a 1-8 start to the conference slate, but it may be too little too late. NU sits 82nd in the latest RPI rankings.


Cross Country: The Wildcats finished fifth at the NCAA Midwest Regionals this past weekend, but that wasn't enough to advance them to the finals. This was NU's highest finish at regionals since 2002, which was also the last time the program made the NCAA championships.

Two runners made the Midwest All-Region team after finishing in the top 25. Junior Audrey Huth earned the honor for the second year in a row, finishing the 6K course in 16th place with a time of 21:32.6. Sophomore Lexie Goldsmitch finished 24th in a time of 21:45.08.

Wrestling: NU competed in the MSU Open this past weekend, with junior Levi Mele wining the title at 125 pounds after going 5-0. Redshirt freshman Pierce Harger finished second at 165 pounds, and fellow redshirt freshman Lee Munster also placed second in his weight class, 174 pounds.

This was NU's first tournament of the year. Earlier this month, NU wrestled in its first dual match, beating No. 14 Stanford, 27-8. The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 20 in the latest InterMat poll. Junior Jason Welch, who was selected to compete at the upcoming prestigious NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 21, is NU's top-ranked wrestler, coming in at No. 3 in his 157-pound weight class.

NU next heads to the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia on Nov. 20.

Fencing: The Wildcats are still in their individual tournament portion of their schedule, sending five fencers this past weekend to the USFA Junior North American Cup in Texas. The tournament is one of three events that determine the team that will represent the US at the World Championships next year. Freshman Courtney Dumas had the only notable NU result, placing third in the women's epee.

NU next competes in the Penn State Open on Saturday, the last event before the Wildcats open their dual meet season in January.

Men's and Women's Swimming: The men's team had a good weekend, going 3-0 in dual meets, with wins over Wisconsin on Friday, and over UIC and North Dakota on Saturday. The team is 4-1 overall, 2-1 in the Big Ten.

Meanwhile, the women lost to Wisconsin, but beat UIC and North Dakota. The women are 3-2 overall, 1-2 in the Big Ten.

Both teams are next in action Friday through Sunday at SPAC, hosting the TYR Invitational.