DADE CITY, Fla. -- The seventh-seeded Northern Illinois men’s golf team defeated second-seeded Akron in the opening round of the Mid-American Match Play before falling to sixth-seeded Bowling Green in the semifinals on Monday at the Lake Jovita South Course at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club. Senior Kurtis Luedtke posted a pair of match wins on the first day of competition for the Huskies in the spring season.
In the opening round, the Huskies split the six matches with Akron, but advanced via the tiebreaker. NIU earned its three victories by a larger margin than Akron and moved on to the semifinals.
“Today was a tale of two rounds,” said NIU head coach Tom Porten. “The morning was a good grind for us. Kurtis (Luedtke) led us all day and Shawn did a great job this morning. Beating Akron was a nice start but we just couldn’t win a hole in the first six of seven in the afternoon against Bowling Green.
“Credit to them, they did exactly what they had to do; they put the ball in play, put it on the green and didn’t give any openings. We just couldn’t get anything going until it was too late. Kurtis was a bright spot, he was two-down early, and one-down after 11 but birdied five out of six holes to close his match out. It was a really good start to his spring.”
Sophomore Nick Huggins, junior Shawn Foley and Luedtke earned victories for the Huskies against the Zips. Huggins was a 4-and-2 winner over Louis Birchall, Foley earned a 4-and-3 victory over Ryan Harris and Luedtke claimed a decisive 5-and-4 win over Harry Whittle.
In the first match of the morning pairing, Akron’s Charlie Bulls earned a narrow 1-up win over redshirt senior Griffin Bauman. The narrow margin of defeat in the match proved crucial for the Huskies in advancing via the tiebreaker.
Bowling Green and Toledo also split their six matches in the first round, with the Falcons earning the tiebreaker and advancing to face NIU in the afternoon semifinals.
Luedtke claimed the lone victory for the Huskies against the Falcons, bettering Holden Pahr, 4-and-2.
“The win over Akron, who was ranked 93rd in the country, nearly 100 spots ahead of us, really helps,” said Porten. “If we can do the same against Eastern Michigan, who is historically one of the top teams in the MAC, we will feel like we gained a lot down here. We have a lot of work to do in the morning but we will be ready to go.”
Northern Illinois will face fourth-seeded Eastern Michigan in the third-place match on Tuesday morning. Play is scheduled to begin with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. ET.