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Weekend Wrap: Lacrosse, men's golf advance

Let’s recap a busy weekend in NU spring sports. We’ll deliver some big congratulations to the men’s golf team for qualifying for the NCAA championships, a high five to the lacrosse team for thoroughly dismantling Albany to secure a berth in the NCAA Final Four, some well-deserved applause to the women’s tennis team for putting up a good fight in a loss to top-seeded Stanford in the NCAA Round of 16, and a pat on the butt to the baseball team, which missed out on the Big Ten tournament but did win its season finale.

First, let’s dispense with some NU-related announcements. Former NU women’s basketball star Amy Jaeschke makes her WNBA preseason debut today with the Chicago Sky, which faces the Chinese national team at 11:30 a.m. CT. Jaeschke is battling to make the Sky roster as a back-up center but has some significant competition. All-star Sylvia Fowles is the entrenched starter, and the Sky recently acquired veteran Michelle Snow, who figures to have the inside track as the second stringer. That leaves Jaeschke, drafted in the third round of this year’s draft, battling with fellow rookie Carolyn Swords, drafted in the second round, for a potential spot as the third center.

In women’s lacrosse news, junior Shannon Smith and sophomore Taylor Thornton will be chatting online with NU fans tonight at 5:30 p.m. on Smith is a 2011 Tewaaraton Trophy finalist (lacrosse’s equivalent of the Heisman) and is coming off her fourth straight five-goal game, while Thornton is a first-team All-American Lacrosse Conference player and scored a spectacular coast-to-coast goal against Albany.

Now, to the recaps:

LACROSSE: The Wildcats were already favored coming into their quarterfinal match-up against Albany, but the odds tilted even further in their favor when Albany starting goalkeeper Anna Berman was suspended for "failure to meet team standards." Berman has the NCAA’s second-lowest goals against average, at 6.82, so this was no small loss for the Great Danes, who entered the game undefeated at 18-0.

But, it may not have mattered in the end, as NU blew Albany out of the water, 18-4, with a succession of highlight-reel goals. The Great Danes only got off nine shots in the game, compared to 28 for the Wildcats. Shannon Smith scored her first of five goals just 32 seconds into the game, and the Wildcats never looked back. It was 13-3 at halftime, and then with about 10 minutes to go, head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller gave starting goalkeeper Breezy LoManto a rest and inserted backup Darby St. Clair. This was Albany’s first game against a top-10 team, and suffice it to say, it showed.

With the win, NU (19-2) now advances to its seventh straight Final Four berth and will be looking to claim its sixth NCAA title in that span. The semifinal matchup on Friday is against North Carolina, whom the Wildcats beat, 7-6 in OT, early in the season. The winner will take on either defending champion Maryland or Duke on Sunday. As of now, no broadcast has been announced of the semifinal games, though it looks like there’ll be a livestream on, so if you can’t get online, you’ll have to be in Stony BrookN.Y., to see the action live.

MEN’S GOLF: Entering the turn of their final round in the NCAA regionals at Colorado on Saturday, the Wildcats sat five shots out of the fifth and final qualifying slot for the championships. Things didn’t look good for NU, but the team came like gangbusters, going 9-under in their final nine holes to leap-frog five teams and finish in third place. The incredible comeback means that NU qualifies for its second NCAA championship berth in three seasons. This year’s championship will be May 31-June 5 in StillwaterOklahoma.

In Saturday’s final round, senior Josh DuPont shot a career-best-tying 5-under 67 to lead the Wildcats. Senior David Lipisky shot 68, as all five Wildcats finished even or under par. For the entire tournament, the Wildcats had two top-20 finishes: Lipisky finished seventh overall at 5-under, and freshman Jack Perry finished 16th at 1-under.

WOMEN’S TENNIS: The No. 16 seed Wildcats faced a tough match-up against defending national champion Stanford, which was not only undefeated and the No. 1 seed, but was also playing on its home court. On top of that, the match started at 10:45 p.m. PT, which was 12:45 a.m. CT, due to the previous matches going long. In those difficult conditions, NU put up a good fight and played the Cardinal tough, losing 4-2. Stanford then went on to defeat No. 8 Georgia, 4-0, in the quarterfinals and will face No. 5 seed Baylor in the semifinals tonight.

The Wildcats were able to capture the doubles point to go up 1-0, with the teams of Maria Moslova/Belinda Niu and Elena Chernyaova/Brittany Wowchuk posting come-back wins after trailing 4-1 in their matches. In the singles matches, Moslova at No. 1, Niu at No. 2 and Wowchuk at No. 3 all lost in straight sets. Kate Turvy did win her match at No. 4 in straight sets. That made the score 3-2 Stanford with the No. 5 and No. 6 singles matches still being played. Linda Abu Mushrefova at No. 5 and Stacey Lee at No. 6 both took their opponents to the third set, but Lee ultimately lost, giving Stanford the clinching win.

NU finishes the season 22-8. Moslova, Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton will see their seasons continue, however. Moslova qualified for the NCAA Singles Championship, while Abu Mushrefova and Hamilton qualified for the NCAA Doubles Championship. Both events begin Wednesday.

BASEBALL: The Wildcats came into their three-game series against conference-leading Michigan State 1.5 games back of the sixth and final spot to qualify for the Big Ten tournament. NU dropped the first game, 3-0, on Thursday, making the final two games must-wins.

Well, Friday’s 10-1 loss sealed the Wildcats’ fate. But at least the team got a bit of redemption on Sunday, beating the Spartan, 6-5, and sending the seniors out on a positive note. The team finishes 20-29, 10-13 in conference.

Next comes the Major League Baseball draft in June, and NU figures to have two late-round prospects. Junior Paul Snieder is the team’s best prospect and is draft-eligible, but is reportedly a tough sign. Snieder, a first baseman and pitcher, batted .347 with a team-leading six HR and 42 RBI; on the mound, he had a 2.88 ERA and five saves in 25 IP. Senior third baseman Chris Lashmet, who batted .353 with three HR and 29 RBI, could also be drafted.