We may only be in Week 2, but Northwestern spring sports are well underway, with the postseason for many teams right around the corner. NBN Sports has you covered if you want to keep up with how the Wildcats are doing on the field, the course, and the court.
Lacrosse: Rising to the Challenge
Northwestern’s Women’s Lacrosse has had a great start to the season with an 11-3 record (3-0 B1G). The team has played well in numerous big games with a 6-3 record against ranked opponents. Selena Lasota (39 goals) and Sheila Nesselbush (33 goals) have led the high-powered Northwestern offense. Another important part of the Wildcats' success this season has been Shelby Fredericks’ (86 draw controls, 21 assists) consistent play in the midfield. The ‘Cats are playing their best lacrosse of the season, with 40 goals in their last 2 games. The team has three more conference games before the postseason, where they have their eyes on a Big Ten title and a Final Four appearance.
Softball: The Time is Now
If you’re looking for offensive starpower, first-year Rachel Lewis has you covered. Lewis, already the recipient of three Big Ten awards this season, has the 2nd-most RBIs and 3rd-most home runs in the conference. And when you factor in senior Sabrina Rabin (.389 batting average, 51 hits), you get a threatening duo that leads one of the Big Ten’s better offenses. The pitching, led by first-year Kenna Wilkey and sophomore Morgan Newport, has had mixed results recently and will need to find its groove if the team wants to take hold of the conference. Northwestern is 23-13 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play, with series wins against strong Nebraska and Minnesota teams but a recent strange series loss to a subpar team in Purdue. They face a tough Ohio State next at Evanston, and it will be an important series to win if the ’Cats wants to bounce back from the Purdue games and prove their ability.
Women’s Soccer: Let the Good Times Roll
Spring is here, and that means Northwestern women’s soccer is back. The Wildcats will play a six-game season in the next month, including the Chicago Cup final next Friday, April 20 against either Loyola, Chicago or DePaul. Coach Moynihan’s team will look to continue the momentum they built in the 2017 season, when they qualified for the NCAA Tournament, finished second in the Big Ten regular season and made the final of the Big Ten conference tournament. The successful season resulted in Marisa Viggiano, Lauren Clem, and Kayla Sharples being named 2017 Scholar All-Americans, a new record for the program. Viggiano in particular is one to keep a close eye on this season. In the 2017 season, she led the team with eight assists and averaged 1.4 shots per game. The midfield maestro will be key for Northwestern as they aim to lift the Chicago Cup and win tough games on the road in the next month.
Women’s Golf: It All Comes Down to This
No. 7 women’s lacrosse gets all the attention, but No. 12 Northwestern women’s golf has been equally as impressive thus far this year. Both Hannah Kim and Janet Mao logged top-25 finishes at the rigorous Northropgrumman Regional Challenge in February, but the Wildcats’ real turning point was the team’s top-5 finish at the elite Darius Rucker Intercollegiate from March 2-4. Sophomore Brooke Riley finished sixth in a field that included 10 of the nation’s top 20 golfers with a 217 over the three rounds; Kim and Stephanie Lau also finished in the top 25. From there it only got better. On March 26-28 the Wildcats finished fourth at SDSU March Mayhem, toppling the then-No. 1 UCLA Bruins in the process. Finally, over the past three days the squad placed sixth at the Silverado Showdown in a tournament featuring a 12-place finish from Sarah Cho and a 3-under 69 from Mao on Tuesday. This is a team with multiple players who can top the leaderboards on any given day, which should come in handy next weekend at the Big Ten Championships in Maineville, Ohio, where the Wildcats will likely clash with defending champion No. 10 Michigan State for the conference title.
Men’s Tennis: Rebuilding Year
For men’s tennis, this season’s focus has been about overcoming the learning curve that comes with being a young team: men's tennis has no seniors, and will be starting as many as three freshmen at singles. Although the ‘Cats have yet to win against a ranked foe, some bright spots give promise for a better future in the next few seasons. Freshmen Nick Brookes and Antonioni Fasano, although inconsistent, have provided solid play for the ‘Cats. Fasano earned what may have been the most impressive victory of the year for the ‘Cats in beating then-No. 16 Alexis Galarneau of NC State. Elsewhere, sophomore Chris Ephron has won five matches in a row, including a dominant 6-0, 6-0 shutout against UIC. As the team enters its final month of games, Coach Arvid Swan will look to find some stability; the ‘Cats have gone 4-3 in conference play, mixing convincing victories with getting shut out by higher-ranked opponents. If the ‘Cats play with more consistency, they may emerge with solid building blocks for next year’s campaign.
Baseball: In the Cellar
Coming off of a strong showing in the Big 10 tournament last season, the Wildcats were hoping to bring that momentum into the start of the 2018 baseball season. Unfortunately, that has not been the case thus far in Northwestern’s 8-17 start that features just one Big Ten win over nine games. Northwestern ranks among the bottom two teams of the Big Ten with Penn State as the only other one-win team. In part, Northwestern’s lack of success can be attributed to its struggles to produce offensively this season with a team batting average of just .225. The Wildcat’s offense has been led by their middle infield with junior shortstop Jack Dunn batting .275 and sophomore second baseman Alex Erro batting .292 with 7 of his 28 hits being for extra bases. From the mound, freshman Quinn Lavelle has demonstrated a promising start to his Northwestern career with the team’s best record at 3-3, lowest era at 2.75, and most innings pitched at 39 1/3. It will be interesting to see how he develops as Big 10 play continues given his hot start.