Despite a dominant win on #1 for All-Big Ten senior Julie Byrne, #27 Northwestern (15-11, 7-4 B1G) came up short against #24 Princeton (19-4, 7-0 Ivy) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle, WA. Playing without fellow all-conference selection Clarissa Hand, the ‘Cats couldn’t keep up with the Tigers in Washington.
Coach Claire Pollard switched up the doubles lineup to make up for Hand’s absence, putting the Julie Byrne and Hannah McColgan pairing on court #1 with Rheeya Doshi alongside Lee Or on court #2. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Princeton took advantage of the switch as Byrne and McColgan fell 4-6, with Caroline Pozo and Vanessa Streng dropping their match 1-6.
Byrne picked up a victory over Princeton’s Stephanie Schrage with a 6-3, 6-3 win, but none of the other ‘Cats could triumph over their opponents.
Pozo, Doshi, and McColgan lost in straight sets to cement Princeton’s victory. Or and Inci Ogut took her matches to a third set, but match play finished before their games concluded.
Despite an early finish to the postseason, the ‘Cats have plenty to look back on, including six ranked wins during the year en route to Coach Pollard’s 21st consecutive NCAA tournament berth, the 5th longest active streak by a heach coach at the same school.
Princeton will advance to the second round of the tournament to take on the winner of Army and #9 Washington. The ‘Cats will move into the offseason, looking to reclaim their throne at the top of the Big Ten after winning the regular season title last year.