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 second update of the season:
After winning six of their past eight games (and drawing the other two), the women's soccer team finds itself in an unfamiliar position: nationally ranked, for the first time under head coach Michael Moynihan.
The team is 24th in the coaches poll while SoccerAmerica has it all the way at 22. It's the Wildcats' first national ranking since 2010, when they were ranked 14th by SoccerAmerica.
Football: Preparing for Minnesota
Why Northwestern will/won't beat Minnesota
The Wildcats open up their Big Ten slate at home against the Golden Gophers, as Northwestern tries to get revenge for last year's defeat.
The ranking comes on the heels of a dramatic 2-0 weekend for the team, with a 2-0 win over Maryland and a 1-0 overtime victory over then-No. 11 Rutgers. The two games mark the seventh and eighth shutouts of the season for the stout Northwestern defense.
The Rutgers victory in particular stands out as impressive; the teams were locked in a scoreless stalemate before senior Nandi Mehta ended the contest with a golden goal in the 93rd minute on Sunday afternoon.
At 9-1-2 on the season and 3-0-1 in conference, Northwestern is currently second in the Big Ten, with 10 points to Minnesota's 12.
Looking ahead, Northwestern plays Penn State at home on Sunday before heading to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines next week. The Wildcats are not scheduled to face Minnesota in the regular season.
Since our last update, the men's soccer team has opened Big Ten play in a bit of a rough patch as the Wildcats are 1-2 in their three games thus far.
They struggled to find their offensive footing after going down early in their most recent game, a 1-0 loss at the hands of Indiana. The coaches were pleased with the team's second half effort, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Wildcats from going under .500 in conference play.
The bad news is things won't get any easier as Northwestern's next game is in College Park against the Big Ten's second place team: Maryland.
The good news is after that the team gets a bit of a breather with bottom-dwellers DePaul and Rutgers coming to town, sandwiching a game against middling SIU-Edwardsville.
A win at Maryland is always going to be difficult, but the team will hope to at least get some momentum for the contests that follow afterwards.
The field hockey team has slipped two spots in the NFHCA Coaches Poll since the last time we checked in, due to an average (literally) 2-2 record in its last four games. The two losses have come at then-No. 10 Maryland and at an Indiana team that didn't look great in the non-conference portion of the schedule but has started Big Ten play off undefeated.
The Wildcats' combined 9-1 goal margin in victories over Rutgers and Temple unfortunately do not tell us much about this team; Rutgers is the second-worst team in the Big Ten and Temple is 3-7 after losing three in a row.
The team was probably unlucky to lose against Indiana, having out-shot the Hoosiers 20-9, as well as earning almost three times as many corners.
Off to a hot start in conference play with back-to-back 3-0 victories at Maryland and Rutgers, the volleyball team finds itself tied for first in the Big Ten with a 2-0 record.
The sweep of Maryland marked the team's fifth-straight victory and third sweep. The first two games were tight; the margin of victory was two for each result. But, the Wildcats opened things up in the third game, winning comfortably 25-9.
Sophomore Taylor Tashima continued her strong play, notching her fourth double-double on the year with a 36-assist, 13-dig performance. Her 12.0 assists/game ranks among the best in the Big Ten.
The Wildcats have a tough task coming up as they put their five-match win streak on the line with a visit to No. 16 Minnesota on Wednesday night.