It was a pretty big weekend for NU's spring sports, as our women's lacrosse and women's tennis teams notched victories in NCAA postseason play. The softball team, however, saw its season end, as the Wildcats were left out of the NCAA tournament, while the baseball team slipped a bit further out of contention for a berth in the Big Ten tournament.
Here's the rundown—
LACROSSE: The Wildcats got off to a hot start in their first-round NCAA tournament match against Boston College, scoring five of the first six goals, then shutting down the Eagles over the final eight minutes of the contest, for an 11-8 win. Shannon Smith continued her hot streak, notching five goals for the third straight game. The Wildcats also forced 21 turnovers, and goalkeeper Breezy LoManto made seven saves, limiting the Eagles to just three successful conversions off of 10 free position shots.
NU now advances to the second round, where it will host undefeated Albany, the No. 7 seed. The game is at 7 p.m. CT Saturday, and it will be televised by the Big Ten Network. The rest of the bracket pretty much went according to form in the first round, with the only upset being No. 8 seed James Madison, falling 11-10 to Princeton. Princeton will travel to No. 1 seed Maryland in the second round. Other match-ups are No. 4 Florida hosting No. 5 Duke, and No. 3 North Carolina hosting No. 6 Loyola.
WOMEN'S TENNIS: After easily trouncing IPFW, 4-0, in the first round on Friday, the Wildcats also swept Notre Dame, 4-0, in the second round on Saturday, despite missing their No. 2 singles player, Belinda Niu, to injury. With a shuffled line-up, NU won the doubles point, then got wins at No. 1 singles from Maria Moslova, No. 3 singles from Kate Turvy, and then No. 5 singles from junior Stacey Lee to clinch the victory. Lee's win came at a good time, as NU was trailing in all three of the other singles matches, when Lee won the decisive point.
This marks NU's 11th trip in 12 years to the round of 16, but the road toughens considerably, as the Wildcats will next travel to top-seeded Stanford. The dual starts at 8 p.m. CT Friday. As for the rest of the bracket, all 16 seeds advanced to the third round, except for No. 12 seed Florida State, which was upset by SMU, and No. 13 seed Tennessee, which was beaten by in-state rival Vanderbilt. Should NU manage to get by Stanford on Friday, the quarterfinals on Sunday will be against either No. 8 Georgia or No. 9 Cal.
SOFTBALL: The Wildcats saw their season come to a close with a pair of defeats over the weekend to Penn State — 6-3 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday, and for the second year in a row, NU failed to make the NCAA tournament. NU finishes a disappointing 23-10 overall, 5-13 in Big Ten play.
Despite the lackluster season, several Wildcats had great individual seasons. Human walk machine Adrienne Monka destroyed the NU school records of walks in a season, with 66 (previous record was 48), and on-base percentage, with an amazing .707 (previous record was .538). That OBP mark is the second-best in NCAA Division 1 history. With NU having played 43 games this year, Monka averaged 1.54 walks per game.
NU's single-season batting average record also came tumbling down. Sophomore Emily Allard set the new record of .491, besting the previous record of .448. Monka also would have beaten that old record, with her .461 average. Allard also stole 45 bases on the year, one off the NU single-season record of 46.
BASEBALL: The Wildcats (19-27, 9-11) took two games from Michigan this weekend, 7-1 and 11-6, but still slipped half a game down the Big Ten standings, due to Sunday's rain-out. NU sits in eighth place in the conference, 1.5 games out of the sixth and final spot to qualify for the Big Ten tournament. The Wildcats have three games left in the regular season to make up that deficit, and it'll be tough, as those games will be against conference-leading Michigan State starting Thursday.
First baseman/pitcher Paul Snieder had a nice week, batting .588 in four games (NU also played a pair of non-conference games mid-week) and being selected Big Ten Player of the Week. Snieder hit a seventh-inning grand slam against