Saturday, May 26, 2007

To the finals!

Last night was fun. The 'Cats absolutely stomped UPenn to advance to their third straight national championship game thanks to playing near-perfect lacrosse. NU shut out the Quaker offense for the entire first half, a feat that no team has accomplished since 1991. Aly Josephs was the hero with five goals, alongside her fellow senior Kristin Kjellman who added a hat trick. The game was all but over at halftime with Northwestern leading 8-0.

Will and I were marveling after the game: Hannah Nielsen, the sophomore sensation from Down Under, who leads the team with a mind-blowing 113 points, was almost entirely shut down by the Quakers. The 'Cats number one offensive threat and a finalist for national player of the year was virtually neutralized...and NU still won by TEN goals. That's a testament to the balanced nature of the Wildcat attack and the sense of teamwork Kelly Amonte Hiller instills in her players. It's a pleasure to watch.

I know it was already mentioned in the previous post, but WOW: DUKE?! What happened? We left the stadium when Duke started to take control late in the first half and Virginia seemed totally dead in the water. Trailing 13-4 in the second half, UVA stormed back for an almost-unheard-of 10 straight goals to win. We were chatting with coach Hiller back at the hotel last night, and she described the Virginia comeback as "one of the sickest things I've ever seen." No wonder she's such an awesome recruiter! Not only is she one of the greatest figures in women's lacrosse history, she's young enough to be able to use the adjective "sick" in lieu of "cool" without sounding lame.

So, as we enjoy Dillo Day here in Philly (don't expect any blog posts tonight), we are getting set for the big broadcast tomorrow night. Mark Murphy will join us on the pre-game, in addition to Kelly Amonte Hiller. Please join us at 5:45 CT for full coverage of NU/UVA. It's a rematch of the 2005 national championship, when NU dethroned the Cavs 13-10 in Annapolis, MD.

Go 'Cats!

An NU Dissection

Northwestern defeated Penn 12-2 yesterday in what was the single best performance from any lacrosse team that I have ever seen. And that from a team that essentially was not trying to score in the second half.

It is abundantly clear that the Wildcats are on a completely different level of lacrosse. This second half was almost entirely played with a running clock when Penn went down 10 goals. And it was the semi-finals. Penn was ranked second in the coaches' poll. A top tier team was demolished by the NU squad.

But the game that Guy and I called was nothing compared to UVA-Duke. The Blue Devils came out of the gates and blew UVA out of the water. At one point it was 13-4. But then, the Cavaliers made an unprecedented run. It was ten unanswered goals for the 'Hoos in one of the most exciting comebacks in tournament history.

Guy and I were debating how much momentum helps Virginia. In my opinion, the day off today is huge. The momentum of that tremendous run will dissipate today and the teams will be on equal footing come Sunday. And, given the monstrous disparity between NU and everyone else talent-wise, that bodes well for the Wildcats.

I am certainly predicting an NU win on Sunday. This team is too good for that not to happen. And I look forward to being on the air for my first NU championship.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Let the Good Times Keep on Rolling!

Hello NU Sports Enthusiasts!

As I'm making my much-anticipated return to the softball postseason broadcast booth tomorrow, I thought I'd join the discussion.

What a day! While close games are the ones you remember for ages, the blowouts are oh so relaxing. As predicted, South Carolina could not hit Eileen Canney. Since they have only three hitters batting over .232 and only 2 with more than 1 HR, it shouldn't be a shock.

The pleasant surprise was Northwestern's offense. South Carolina was able to upend the three higher seeds in their region by keeping them pinned down with great pitching. But they're not power-pitchers, which presents a problem. When you have runners on base and your fielders keep making mistakes (as was the case for the Gamecocks), you need someone who can keep the ball out of play. Strikeouts are essential. Hendon couldn't do it, and NU scored 4 crucial insurance runs.

The Wildcats are playing in their third straight Super Regionals. But for the first time in that span, they won on Friday. Saturday looks promising.

Follow that game with the most dominating defensive performance of the year for Northwestern lacrosse. The lowest goals allowed since a drubbing of Vanderbilt back at the beginning of the season. So Duke + two games against Penn still equals less goals allowed than NU averages PER game.

Here's how good it was. Not only was Penn shutout in the first half. Lathrop only had two saves. My partners in Philly can confirm this, but that stat tells me that Finch, Finochiarro, and the rest of the defense set up a brick wall around the fan. The Quakers didn't even put up a fight. What do you expect from pacifists.

Kyle Whitehead and I, your humble servant, on the call tomorrow. Let's play one!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Law & Order: Criminal Intent Is Torture

Hello all,

Since being in Philadelphia, I have only had two options of ways to waste my time:

1) Listening to Guy's horrendous, immature and offensive jokes. Numerous WNUR staffers, present and former (Greg Bobak, I'm talking about you) would be outraged at the stories told. They are not suitable for this blog.

2) Watching television. Now, when Guy and I got to the luxurious Marriott, we were greeted by hilarity on the boob tube: the National Geography Bee. The guffaws were free-flowing at the awkward displays of emotion from these young people. Unfortunately, the champion made quick work of her competition and that was the end of that amusement.

The USA Network then promptly began a marathon of Criminal Intent. Guy and I are both huge Law & Order fans. But, and I think I speak on behalf of Guy, CI is atrocious. And when it is on for hours upon hours, it is torturous. So I am announcing my campaign to revoke the FCC license of any channel that airs this filth, especially at the expense of the other Law & Orders (the original and SVU) that actually are riveting television.

Greetings from Philly!

Hey folks,

Will and I arrived in Philadelphia earlier today and we're enjoying ourselves immensely. The process of getting here, however, was not a particularly fun process. About half of the US Airways ATM-style check in contraptions were out of order, leading to high levels of frustration among our fellow travelers. Two beleaguered airline employees were desperately trying to match up checked baggage tags with the proper passengers, and they did so by just shouting out names randomly. Someone was actually named "Adolf." That can't be a fun name to grow up with. One of the last names we heard shouted out was, "Vendetta? Do we have a Vendetta here?" I responded by musing aloud that they might have a few of those developing thanks to the terminal debacle, prompting a few chortles from people standing around us.

Of course I got the middle seat, which made the flight oh so comfortable..but Will and I passed the time by talking lacrosse and making borderline inappropriate jokes. The baggage claim process was mercifully painless, as was the car rental. I feel so old being able to rent a car! It took us an hour to get to the hotel thanks to a labyrinth of one way streets and an, um, somewhat inattentive co-pilot. Fortunately my good friend Sean Hannity was on the radio, allowing me to enjoy the drive.

This hotel is a palace. The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is easily the nicest hotel I've stayed in on a WNUR Sports trip. The lobby is amazing, the gym/spa/pool is incredible (free Odwalla fruit drinks and lime-infused H20), and there is a button on the room phone that's called "at your service." The good people on the other end of that phone line assist guests with virtually anything, including ordering a delicious pizza that may or may not be arriving in about 10 minutes.

We are currently doing some game prep and watching Law & Order: SVU. We are stoked for the game tomorrow. Penn has gotten a lot better since the 'Cats dispensed of them back in March, illustrated by an eye-opening win over Maryland in the quarterfinals. They have won 13 straight games and will be playing at their home venue. We still predict an NU win. Check in throughout the final four for more lax insight and pointless (but hopefully amusing anecdotes) here on the grand old WNUR Sports blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Exciting Weekend Ahead

There is quite a weekend on tap for Wildcat fans and WNUR Sports will be with you every step of the way.

Guy Benson and Will Cinelli will be providing live updates from their adventures at the lacrosse final 4 in Philadelphia and back in Evanston Kyle Whitehead will keep you up to date on the softball team's Super Regional matchup with South Carolina.

Stay tuned to and all weekend long for game recaps, highlights, analysis, stories from the road and much, much more.