Every other week during the fall sports season, we'll be providing updates on Northwestern's non-revenue sports. All are understandably overshadowed by football, as they run side-by-side with the most popular college sport. But some of these other Wildcat teams excel outside of the spotlight.
We'll be keeping tabs on four teams during the fall: men's soccer, women's soccer, field hockey and volleyball. We'll also have occasional updates on cross country, as well as winter sports (and even spring sports) like swimming (and tennis) that get underway during the fall.
Here is the first update of the season:
After stumbling out of the gates to start the season, the men's soccer team has seemed to find its footing lately, with two straight victories to bring their season record to 2-2-1.
The lone tie came to start the season against Colgate, but the Wildcats had to wait awhile for their first victory. It finally came in the Big Ten opener over the always-tough Ohio State Buckeyes though. Sporting the team's gray camouflage jerseys, senior Joey Calistri scored the second of his two goals on the night in the 62nd minute to put the Wildcats up 2-0 at Toyota Park. Fellow senior Cole Missimo assisted both goals.
Calistri seemed eager to continue his fine play into the next game against Central Michigan, where he was credited with an assist on freshman Jake Roberge's first career goal late in the match to give the Wildcats a 1-0 victory. The coaches noted the team looked tired during the early season midweek game, but were happy to take home the victory. Calistri was named Big Ten offensive player of the week.
Coming up, the team has two tough road matches against Michigan and Illinois before returning home to face Indiana Sept. 27.
The women's soccer team has gotten off to a strong start this season, posting a 6-1-1 record overall after a successful weekend in Colorado. The first win of the weekend came last Friday in Fort Collins over the Colorado State Rams. Despite going down 1-0 against the run of play in the 60th minute, the Wildcats showed poise in pushing to get the equalizer and then going ahead on Kourtney Scott's first goal of the year. She scored in the 76th minute.
Next, the Wildcats were in Boulder on Sunday to close out their non-conference slate. Sophomore Michelle Manning's golden goal in overtime was the game-winner, as she led her team to the 1-0 victory. The coaches were also proud of the team's defensive effort in registering their fifth shoutout of the season.
Since opening the season in Evanston with a tough loss at home to still-undefeated and No. 1 Connecticut, the Wildcats have won six of their last seven, and currently rank 12th nationally in the NFHCA Coaches poll. Their record now reads 6-2. That includes a dominant string of games since last Friday; three victories in five days by an average margin of victory of five goals.
The victories have been powered by a rock-solid defense. In three games, Northwestern's opponents managed only a combined three goals. Of note during this stretch, redshirt-sophomore Lindsay von der Luft recorded her first shutout in goal against Central Michigan.
The offense has scored 18 goals in that time, powered by Isabel Flens and Caroline Troncelliti. Both players having scored five goals each over the past three games. Flens and Troncelliti account for more than half of the teams goals during that span.
While the recent run of games has been at home, the Wildcats embark on a four-game road trip this week before returning home to host Iowa on Oct. 2.
The women's golf team finished the Dick McGuire Invitational Tuesday evening, the first competition of the year. Ranked No. 12 nationally in Golfweek's preseason rankings, the Wildcats secured a second-place finish at the University of New Mexico Championship Course.
Sophomore Sarah Cho was the standout, shooting an 8-under to win the tournament. She overcame a two stroke deficit in the final round to edge Stanford's Mariah Stanford for the title. It is the Californian's second win in her last four college events.
The team closed with its best team round of the 54-hole tournament to secure the second-place finish. All six Wildcats finished inside the top 36 of the 104-player field. The Wildcats are looking to build on this positive season opener in the coming weeks as their season gets into full swing.
Despite an above-.500 record at 6-3, Northwestern finds themselves only outpacing 2-7 Rutgers as far as Big Ten schools are concerned. Luckily, however, conference play has not yet started, so the Wildcats do not need to be overly concerned about that mark.
After starting the season strong with three victories in the Rambler Challenge in Chicago, the team has struggled since then, going 3-3. That stretch of games includes a tense victory over Missouri State 3-2, but also losses to Idaho State and Western Kentucky.
The victory over Missouri State was the team's first five-setter on the year. The Wildcats won the first set 25-18 but then lost the next two sets before squeaking out the fourth 25-23. They took care of business in the fifth, 15-7, to claim the match. Sophomore Taylor Tashima made it three straight double-doubles with a 57-assist, 15-dig performance.
Under rookie head coach 'A Havahla Haynes, the Wildcats have competed in two events in this young season. A strong showing in the Badger Season Opener — the team had three runners in the Top-16 — foreshadowed an even stronger day at the 36th Annual Midwest Open. Northwestern placed four in the top 25 and seven in the top 30 to secure a third-place finish overall.
The Wildcats are off this week in preparation for the Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota on Sept. 26.