Non-Rev Recap: May 27-29
By Max Rogal
Editor’s note: Each week, WNUR Sports recaps the news and results from the in-season, non-revenue teams that we cover in order to help our listeners and readers stay connected to the pulse of Northwestern athletics.
Results: NCAA Tournament
- 5/27 Final Four vs. North Carolina: 15-14 Loss
For three quarters on Friday afternoon, it looked like Northwestern would pull the upset over North Carolina and book a spot in the championship game for the first time since 2012. The ‘Cats got off to a hot start, riding a pair of goals from graduate students Lauren Gilbert and Jill Girardi, as well as tallies from Elle Hansen and Leah Holmes, to grab a 6-0 lead. The ‘Cats defense was also on fire, led by senior goalkeeper Madison Doucette, who stopped all three shots she faced in the period. With a minute to go in the first, the Tar Heels were on the brink of disaster. They were gifted an early halftime when the skies opened up and lightning forced a weather delay. After the break, the Tar Heels came out firing, scoring two quick goals to start the second period. But the ‘Cats were able to respond thanks to a hat-trick goal from Gilbert and a rocket shot off a free position by freshman Samantha Smith, restoring their six-goal lead at halftime.
For the ‘Cats, the third quarter was all about holding on to the lead they had built in the first half. North Carolina was able to find much more of a rhythm offensively, led by Tewaaraton Award finalist and 5-time all-American Jamie Ortega, who had one goal and two assists in the quarter. However, Northwestern was able to respond each time Carolina found the back of the net this period, stretching the lead to as much as 8 on two separate occasions. A lot of that success was due to Girardi’s efforts in the draw circle, which saw her break the program record for draw controls in a season with 183, a record previously held by fellow graduate student Brennan Dwyer.
Unfortunately for Northwestern, the Tar Heels were unfazed by their largest deficit of the season. In the fourth, Dylan Amonte scored for the ‘Cats to extend the lead to 14-7 with only 10:15 on the clock. They would not score again. North Carolina unleashed 8 consecutive strikes, five of which from Graduate Student Sam Geiersbach, to steal the win and leave Northwestern with one of the most devastating losses in program history.
Northwestern finishes the year with a 16-5 record, falling two games shy of the ultimate prize for a second straight season.
Results: NCAA Tournament Super Regional
- 5/27 vs. Arizona State: 4-3 win (11 inn.)
- 5/28 vs. Arizona State: 4-7 loss (8 inn.)
- 5/29 vs. Arizona State: 8-6 win
The ‘Cats are headed to OKC! Danielle Williams threw an insane 430 pitches in three days, and the ‘Cats offense came through when it mattered most to push Northwestern past a tough Arizona State team and secure a spot in the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2007.
In game one, Arizona State took the lead thanks to three solo home runs off Williams. Down to their final five outs, Big Ten Player of the Year Rachel Lewis smashed a two-run shot to bring the ‘Cats within one. Hannah Cady then followed with a game-tying solo shot in the top of the seventh, and Williams stranded the bases loaded in the bottom half to send it to extra innings. Neither team was able to break through in extras, until the 11th, when Maeve Nelson led things off with an infield single. Two groudouts and a passed ball later the ‘Cats had the lead, which Williams would hold on to as she capped off a herculean 11 inning, 179 pitch effort.
Arizona State was on the front foot once again in game two. A two-out, three-run homer from Jazmine Hill gave the Sun Devils their second three-run lead in as many games, and finally chased Danielle Williams from the circle. The ‘Cats clawed their way back through two separate rallies from Jordyn Rudd and Maeve Nelson, with Nelson just barely missing a walk-off home run on a ball that hit off the top of the wall. Playing for a second straight day in extras, and with their season on the line, the Sun Devils broke through for three in the eighth, and this time were able to hold on in the bottom half to send the series to a do-or-die game three.
Arizona State apparently learned their lesson that an early three-run lead was not enough against Northwestern, so they decided to score five off Williams early in game three. Unfazed, Northwestern’s offense came to life in the 4th, notching two runs on a Sun Devils’ error and two on a single from Rudd. Cady sent yet another game-tying solo shot over the wall in the fifth, and Nelson’s single in the sixth gave the ‘Cats a lead they would not give up. The Sun Devils brought a winning run to the plate in the seventh, but Williams capped off yet another gutsy performance by forcing Jazmyn Rollin to pop out to Cady at third, clinching the series win and setting the Northwestern sports world on fire.
The ‘Cats now look forward to their biggest challenge yet in No. 1-seeded Oklahoma, who they’ll face in game one of the WCWS, Thursday, June 2 at 1:30 pm CT.