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Fall sports: Weekend wrap, 10/4

While our football team spent the weekend getting kicked in the nuts by Illinois, both figuratively and literally, our other fall sports were busy doing some winning and losing. It's been a mixed bag so far for our non-revenue sports. Let's get to the recaps.

FIELD HOCKEY: The rebuilding job by head coach Tracey Fuchs has taken a giant leap forward this year, with the team notching huge wins over No. 8 American, No. 11 Cal, and No. 18 Virginia, propelling the Wildcats to No. 16 in the latest NHFCA coaches poll. NU has gone 9-2 in nonconference play, but Big Ten play has been a challenge, as expected, with the Wildcats off to a 1-2 start. On Saturday, the team dropped a heartbreaking game, 4-3 in OT, against No. 7 Penn State. That came two days after NU shut out Michigan State 3-0.

The road remains tough for NU, with a matchup against No. 14 Michigan this Friday, and then a nonconference tilt against Yale on Sunday. Both matches will be at Lakeside Field. NU is one of five ranked Big Ten squads in the polls; Penn State is the conference's flag-bearer at No. 7.

Chelsea Armstrong continues her assault on the NU record books. Against Virginia on Sept. 18, she scored a hat trick to set the NU record for career points, and then against St. Louis last Tuesday, she became the program's all-time leader in career goals with another hat trick. In case you're counting, she's got 19 goals on the season, just five shy of her career-high 24 she scored her freshman year. And she's still just a junior!

Hit the jump for a look at our other sports.

VOLLEYBALL: The Wildcats cruised through the nonconference portion of their schedule, before finding the Big Ten competition a tougher go. NU sits at 10-5 overall, 1-3 in conference. Last week, NU lost, 3-1, to No. 12 Purdue, then swept Indiana, 3-0, for the team's first conference win. The Wildcats' loaded Big Ten schedule continues this week, with a match against No. 8 Penn State on Wednesday and No. 25 Ohio State on Saturday. Seven teams from the Big Ten are ranked in the top 25 (though not NU), led by undefeated No. 1 Illinois.

Sophomore outside hitter Stephanie Holthus continues to pace the Wildcat attack, ranking seventh nationally in kills per set, with 4.73, and fifth in points per set, with 5.38. Both figures lead the Big Ten.

MEN'S SOCCER: The Wildcats have had trouble forging any momentum on the season, with an up-and-down performance that has led to a 4-4-1 record (0-0-1 in Big Ten play).  Last week, NU was smoked, 4-0, by crosstown rival DePaul, and then beat Missouri State, 2-0, at home. The team's only notable performance to date has been a 0-0 tie against No. 7 Cal at Toyota Park, the home of the Chicago Fire. 

NU will have another chance for a high-profile win this week, with a Wednesday road game against No. 11 Notre Dame, and then a Sunday match at Ohio State. It's a pretty lean year for Big Ten men's soccer, with just two teams ranked in the top 25, led by No. 6 Indiana. 

NU's stout defense has helped freshman goalkeeper Tyler Miller notch five shutouts on the season, which ranks second in the Big Ten. He's also fourth in goals-against-average, allowing 0.76 goals per game.

WOMEN'S SOCCER: NU's women's soccer team is having a pretty terrible season. The Wildcats are 1-11-0 overall, 0-5-0 in conference. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the ‘Cats, but even with that caveat, the record is really disappointing, to say the least. The team's loan win has been a 3-0 shutout of Loyola-Chicago on Sept. 14. Of the ranked teams the Wildcats have played, they lost, 1-0 in OT, to No. 12 Marquette, and 6-0 to No. 2 Stanford.

The dismal performance has resulted in a baptism by fire for freshman goalkeeper Anna Cassell, who was a highly touted recruit and ranks seventh in the Big Ten with 3.91 saves per game. For the Wildcats' most recent game, she was replaced in net by sophomore Sam Hatfield, who made her first career start in a 1-0 loss to Indiana on Sunday

Penn State is the Big Ten's lone representative in the top 25, coming in at No. 24. NU next plays at Michigan on Friday.

CROSS COUNTRY: The Wildcats finished second in the "Gold Race" at this past weekend's Notre Dame Invitational, behind winner Grand Valley State in what amounted to the meet's second-tier race. The meet was run under windy and wet conditions, with gusts up to 40 mph, according to the recap. NU junior Audrey Huth placed first in the 5k race with a season-best time of 17:29. Junior Sophie Ewald finished 10th in the race, with senior Rachel Kaminski placing 12th. 

NU takes this week off from competition, before entering the Wisconsin Invitational in Madison on Oct. 14.