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Northwestern non-revenue sports update: Women’s soccer, field hockey and golf excel

Women’s soccer and women’s golf continue to stand out.

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We haven’t had a non-revenue sports update in a while. Every few weeks, we will go through the sports that are overshadowed by the behemoth that is college football. Some of these teams are doing considerably better than the football team, however.

Women’s Soccer - 4th in the Big Ten (10-1 overall)

The Wildcats started the year with a bang, winning their first nine matches and conceding just one goal. The team also cruised through the James Madison Tournament and won the nonconference trophy. The team followed that up with six straight home wins, including its first two games of the conference season against Indiana and Purdue. The team lost its next fixture at Rutgers but bounced back with a convincing 4-1 road victory at Maryland.

Northwestern enters this week ranked No. 24 in the country according to the latest NSCAA poll. When a team concedes just four goals through its first 11 matches, it’s easy to see that the strength of the team is its defensive ability. Opponents are attempting just 8.2 shots per game against the Wildcats and have only mustered 35 shots on goal thus far. Goalkeeper Lauren Clem is second in the Big Ten in save percentage and has played well, but she’s also faced fewer shots than her competitors, thanks to Northwestern’s strong back line. Northwestern will play at Ohio State on October 1.

Field Hockey - 1st in the Big Ten (8-2 overall)

Field hockey is getting NO RESPECT from the pollsters this week! After two huge home victories against No. 4 Penn State and No. 6 Maryland that extended a six-game winning streak, you would expect Northwestern to at least make the top five. Alas, the Wildcats are ranked sixth in the latest NFHCA poll, up five spots from last week.

But, polls are for losers anyway. The field hockey team is atop the Big Ten with a 3-0 conference record and has looked like a real threat for postseason glory. The team is getting huge contributions from freshman Saar de Brij and junior Pascale Massey.

De Brij and Massey both scored goals against the Nittany Lions and Terrapins, with Massey’s being of the game-winning variety. I don’t think I’m ready for Northwestern to be a field hockey powerhouse. The Wildcats’ next game is at Rutgers on September 30.

Women’s Golf

The Northwestern women’s golf team was one of the strongest teams the school fielded last year and reached a season-high ranking of No. 8. The team’s top five has returned for 2016 and will hope to make the Match Play Tournament at the NCAA Championships after missing out by one stroke last season.

Junior Hannah Kim has led the team to some good results this season. She is the reigning two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and led Northwestern to a third-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Invitational. Sophomore Stephanie Lau finished three strokes behind Kim at Mason Rudolph and should provide some competition for her at the top.

Men’s Soccer - 6th in the Big Ten (2-6-1 overall)

If you think Northwestern football is depressing to watch, you haven’t watched Northwestern men’s soccer recently. The team lost six of seven matches between August 29 and September 21 with one scoreless draw against Indiana. Northwestern was outshot 28-3 in this contest, yet still managed to not concede a goal. I can’t tell whether that is a compliment or criticism.

You can easily make the argument that this team is #funbad though. Last Sunday, Northwestern faced off against Michigan, the worst team in the Big Ten, and proceeded to play a thrillingly mediocre double-overtime struggle that ended in a 2-1 victory for the Wildcats. Northwestern faces Maryland, the best team in the Big Ten, at Evanston on September 30. This team will probably lose, although Northwestern did stun a ranked Maryland squad last year.

Women’s Volleyball - 13th in the Big Ten (7-7 overall)

On Sunday, Penn State came back to Evanston for a rematch of last year’s ludicrous five-set upset victory. Penn State did not mess around and won in straight sets, sending Northwestern to an 0-2 record in the Big Ten and a 7-7 record overall. After starting the year 5-2, the Wildcas have lost five of seven and will need to turn it around quickly if they want any shot at doing damage in Big Ten play. But Northwestern is playing a nationally televised (well, on BTN at least) game against No. 19 Ohio State at 5:30 p.m. today, so you should definitely watch that!

Women’s Cross-Country

I couldn’t get through a fall non-revenue sports update without a cross-country shoutout. This might be the first ever Inside NU cross-country update.

The strange thing about this team is that two new freshmen are leading the way. Aubrey Roberts and Sarah Nicholson have immediately taken the top two spots on the team. They finished 1-2 for Northwestern at the Roy Griak Invitational and both landed in the Top 30 overall. This is very promising for Northwestern’s future as second-year coach ‘A Havahla Haynes starts to put her stamp on the program.

The problem with cross-country scoring, however, is that your third, fourth and fifth-best runners are equally important to your best runner due to cumulative team scoring. Winning the race is good, but if the rest of your teammates get beaten by other teams, the team as a whole will not do well. Thus, Northwestern finished 21st at the Griak Invitational, which is actually quite respectable considering Griak is one of the best early-season college and high school invitationals in the country. Trust me, I had several friends competing. It’s a big deal. Northwestern also beat Illinois and Iowa, so that’s good. Learn from these women, football team, and beat your two biggest enemies!