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Northwestern non-football sports update: Volleyball’s win streak, field hockey, and soccer

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The first third of the season has been a mixed bag for the Wildcats.

Every once in a while, we give a Northwestern non-revenue sports update. This time, we have recaps for all the teams in action for fall quarter.

Women’s Volleyball - Nine-match win streak

If we’d written this four days earlier, Northwestern would still be on its impressive nine game win streak in non-conference play. The Wildcats lost 3-0 to VCU, however, so unfortunately we couldn’t get to double digits. Still, nine straight wins with just two dropped sets is mighty impressive for women’s volleyball. Northwestern won the Duke Invitational and the DePaul Invitational, but have received zero votes in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll. It’s time to change their minds when Big Ten play starts tonight at 6 p.m. against Purdue.

Field Hockey - No. 14 in the nation

Field hockey back! Northwestern has a five-game win streak going. An overtime win over Ohio State and a 2-0 win over No. 15 Louisville has the Wildcats up to No. 14 in the country. The win over Louisville came via two goals from Kirsten Mansfield, who now leads the team with four this season. That should keep them in the running for an NCAA Tournament spot if they can keep winning the games they need to down the stretch.

Also, we have to shoutout Dutch junior Puck Pentenga, who leads the team with 12 points and has the best hockey name ever devised. Yes, I know field hockey is played with a ball, but still, Puck Pentenga! What a name! The spoonerism is Peck Puntenga, which is even better.

Northwestern will get a real test when it faces No. 3 Penn State on the road on September 22.

Women’s Soccer

After winning a share of the Big Ten title last year, Northwestern women’s soccer has been slow out of the gates in 2017. The team is 4-4-1 after two games of Big Ten play, but the Wildcats did pick up a nice 1-0 win over Ohio State on Sunday. Northwestern gets two games at home against No. 12 Rutgers and Maryland, so you should attend!

Northwestern women’s soccer made it’s living off really good defense last season, but that has regressed to the mean in 2017. The Wildcats have conceded in six of their last seven games after conceding a goal in just SIX games in the entire 2016 season. The defense needs to tighten up fast for Northwestern to repeat as B1G champs.

Women’s Cross-Country

Ah yes, my favorite team on campus is UNDEFEATED to start 2017. The Wildcats won the Flyers/Flames Invite in Romeoville, Illinois. They went 1-2-8-10-11, which is about as dominant as you can get in cross-country. The Wildcats next head to Stillwater, Oklahoma for the Cowboy Jamboree on September 30.

To close, I’m just going to rant about cross-country scoring, so feel free to stop reading. Cross-country scoring, for those who don’t know, solely involves adding the places of your top five of seven. The lowest aggregate score wins. For example, the Wildcats had 32 points at the Flames invite.

This means that, despite the fact Aubrey Roberts and Sarah Nicholson went 1-2 in the meet without any competition, they still only got 1 or 2 extra points of value despite blowing out the third-place team. Imagine if a basketball team was significantly better than the other team, but all their baskets were only worth 12 of a point. It’s an antiquated system that doesn’t actually incentivize running quickly if you’re dominating a race, like Michigan’s Erin Finn does on a regular basis in the Big Ten. It does incentivize slow, tactical pack running, which is really boring. Watching a contest to see who can out-kick someone in the last 800 meters is fun for about two minutes.

I propose that cross-country scoring systems give bonuses to the top 6 finishers, and have a large weighted time point-scale, compared to a meet average, or something. Also, all seven varsity runners should count for scoring, because what sport has bench players who play in all the events and yet don’t actually count for anything other than displacing other runners? As a No. 7 runner myself at times, you often feel like you’re completely pointless to the team result.

Of course, this scoring system fits with cross-country and track’s reputation as a highly individual sport. But cross-country is all about teams now—the Nike high school national team meet (NXN) is extremely important! The team championship at the state level is extremely important! And yet, there are many cases in which teams with better average times across seven runners finish behind other teams because the scoring system is absurd.

But I digress. Go ‘Cats.