About 1,000 miles from home and still reeling from a poor showing at Big Ten Championships, Northwestern cemented a less-than-stellar finish to the season by failing to advance beyond the NCAA Regionals on Saturday.
Needing a top-5 showing in the 13-team NCAA Baton Rouge Regional to move on to the NCAA Championships, the sixth-seeded Wildcats could only muster a solo eighth-place performance. The team completed the first round of the tournament in seventh place and failed to improve from there.
The Cats actually slipped to eighth after 36 holes, and without the charge the ladies’ squad experienced last week, they remained in the position by tournament’s end.
The team never seemed comfortable down in the bayou, a factor coach Pat Goss attributed to the event’s location.
“We got a really tough draw here, as it was such a regionally based event in that 11 of the 13 teams here were from this area, which no other Regional came even close to matching,” Goss said. “The style of golf course we played at the University Club was very different from what we do in the Midwest. It made things tricky.”
That is not to say the team’s uneasy rapport with the course was the only thing to blame for the disappointing showing. A layout that does not suit the Cats’ game only made it harder on NU.
Goss certainly did not disagree there, as his team’s deteriorating level of play down the stretch run left him disappointed going into the offseason.
“We seemed like we were playing well and were well prepared, and then we struggled at Big Ten Championships and never recovered,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking. To work that hard and feel like you have such a strong program, and ultimately to lose momentum at the most important time of year is a bit devastating.”
For NU, it will be the second consecutive year the team failed to reach NCAA Championships, but it was not for a lack of effort. Senior Nick Losole left NU on a good note, posting a tied-for-12th-place finish that was the best showing on the team.
Losole attributed his strong play to a combination of good putting and solid course management, but it gave him little solace with NU failing to advance.
“It’s most important that the team didn’t do well and that overshadows the individual performance this week,” Losole said. “It seemed like we had a good shot, but we just couldn’t put it together, we couldn’t get everyone to play well enough.”
Actually, getting anybody to play well at all was a challenge. Other than Losole, Bennett Lavin may have been the only player to really step up, as the sophomore produced a tie for 34th, landing him in the team’s third spot that he had solidified in the fall.
Sophomore Matthew Negri and freshman Andrew Whalen were not so lucky. The duo had four rounds of 79 or higher, combined, both finishing tied for 65th in the process.
Jack Perry also did not have his best in Louisiana, never shooting below 74 on his way to a tie for 17th.
The junior was none too pleased with missing out on Nationals, but with the season over he had a chance to project what was to come in his senior campaign.
“I’m really excited for next year — there’s a lot of great golf to be played from me,” Perry said. “I’m going to work really hard this summer and come back and be a first team All-American.”