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Spring Sports: Everybody's Lookin' Forward to the Weekend, Weekend


While we all breathlessly await potential Savior of the Basketball Team™ John Cannon to announce his college decision Saturday — he’s choosing between a walk-on role at North Carolina or scholarship offers from NU and Georgia — and we also wait to find out where John Henry Pace, Scott Concannon and Stephen Simmons go in the NFL draft, there’s plenty of NU spring sport action to follow this weekend.

Some teams are entering BigTen tournament action, while others are still in the final weeks of the regular season. Meanwhile, the men’s tennis team saw its season end Thursday with a loss in the BigTen tournament to Michigan State. (Maybe they're not looking forward to the weekend, after all.)

Here’s a rundown of what’s happened and what’s going on, after the jump.

 

  •  Lacrosse: Our No. 5-ranked Wildcats (14-2) close out the regular season on the road Saturday against non-conference foe No. 11 Virginia (9-7). Game time is 11 a.m. CT. Games against the Cavaliers are usually pretty memorable, with NU beating Virginia in 2005 and 2007 in the NCAA championship game. NU is coming off last weekend’s sweep of No. 7 Stanford and No. 20 Ohio State. NCAA points leader Shannon Smith, who scored seven goals against Stanford, was named American Lacrosse Conference Offensive Player of the Week this past week.
  • Softball: The Wildcats (22-13, 4-6 BigTen) are in action this weekend at Illinois (20-18, 7-5). The two-game set is pretty critical for NU, as the team needs to rise up the BigTen standings to improve its chances of an NCAA tournament berth. The Wildcats had their doubleheader this past Wednesday against Purdue rained out, but last weekend, they swept Ohio State convincingly. Saturday’s game is at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised by the BigTen Network. Sunday’s game is 2 p.m. Junior Adrienne Monka was named NFCA National Player of the Week last week.
  • Women’s tennis: NU (17-7, 9-1 BigTen) looks to capture its 13th straight conference title in the BigTen tournament, but it’ll have to do it as the No. 2 seed, having lost during the regular season to top-seeded Michigan. NU and Michigan, which is hosting the tournament, have met in the last six conference championship matches, with NU (obviously) winning all six. First, in quarterfinal action this afternoon, the Wildcats take on No. 7 seed Indiana. Winner will take on either No. 3 seed Purdue or No. 6 seed Illinois on Saturday, with the title tilt on Sunday. NU has already earned a slew of individual honors, with senior Maria Moslova, sophomore Kate Turvy and freshman Belinda Niu being named first-team All-BigTen. For Moslova, it was her fourth straight selection. Sophomore Brittany Wowchuk was named to the second team.
  • Baseball: The Wildcats (13-23, 5-7 BigTen) are at home for a three-game set against Illinois (15-21, 6-6). Today’s game is at 3 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday’s games start at 1 p.m. The standings in the BigTen, not known for its baseball prowess, are ridiculously bunched. Consider that NU is in ninth place … but only two games out of first. Purdue, Penn State and Michigan are tied atop the standings at 7-5, while Illinois is tied with four other teams in fourth at 6-6. While the Wildcats’ overall performance is nothing to write home about, NU starting pitcher Luke Farrell, the son of Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell and the reigning BigTen Pitcher of the Week, was the subject of a nice Sun-Times feature on his bounceback from two surgeries to remove a career-threatening throat tumor. Farrell is slated to start Saturday for the Wildcats.
  • Men’s golf: NU begins the BigTen Championships in West Lafayette today. The Wildcats as a team placed third in the tournament last year. Individually, NU golfers have captured the last two titles, with current senior David Lipsky winning the BigTen championship in 2010 and current junior Eric Chun winning in 2009. The unranked Wildcats could use a strong showing at the conference tournament in order to solidify an NCAA tournament berth, but the going will be tough, as the BigTen has five teams ranked in the top 50, led by No. 9 Illinois. 
  • Women’s golf: The Wildcats are not in action this weekend, as they prepare for the NCAA regionals beginning next Thursday at Notre Dame. NU finished third in last weekend’s BigTen championships, with sophomore Laura Weaver placing second individually and Alex Lederhausen finishing third. Weaver this past week was also named first-team All-BigTen, while head coach Emily Fletcher was named BigTen Co-Coach of the Year. At the three-day regionals, No. 13-seed NU will compete against 23 other teams, with the top eight qualifying for the NCAA championships May 17-20. This is NU’s ninth appearance in the NCAA tournament.
  • Men’s tennis: NU’s season came to an end Thursday with a 4-2 loss to Michigan State in the first round of the BigTen tournament. The Wildcats finished 11-14 overall, 2-8 in conference play, good for ninth place. NU junior Joshua Graves, who played No. 1 singles and doubles, was named a second-team All-BigTen selection. Graves went 10-14 in singles play and 14-9 in doubles play, partnering with Spencer Wolf.Graves is the first All-BigTen pick for the Wildcats since Christian Tempke in 2006. The team’s season started promisingly, but ended on a 3-11 slide.