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Northwestern field hockey rises to No. 1 in national coaches’ poll

The 'Cats have clawed their way back to the top spot.

@NUFHCats / Twitter

Following a huge 2-0 win against then-No. 3 Iowa last Friday, Northwestern is back atop the field hockey world. The Wildcats (12-1, 5-0 B1G) climbed to the No. 1 ranking in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association's national poll for the first time this season.

The 'Cats earned 897 points, and 32 of 47 first-place votes. They were followed by No. 2 Duke and No. 3 North Carolina (9-2, 3-0 ACC), which fell from the top spot after losing in double overtime to No. 7 Liberty on Sunday. Rutgers and Louisville rounded out the top five.

Northwestern has won its last 12 games in a row, beating six top-20 teams along the way. Its lone loss, a 1-0 defeat, came against then-No. 9 Louisville in its season opener at Lakeside Field on Aug. 27. A stifling defense and an ever-pressing front line led by Maja Zivojnovic and Peyton Halsey, respectively, have sparked NU's success, with highly-touted first-years such as forward Olivia Bent-Cole and Ilse Tromp also playing critical roles. Above all, Tracey Fuchs’ group has showcased its depth all over the field to open up a jaw-dropping 37-7 goal differential thus far.

Northwestern was last ranked No. 1 in September 2022, when it held the top spot for about a month before falling to the Hawkeyes in its Big Ten opener. Now, NU has a pole position with four games left on its regular season slate. After taking on Ohio next Sunday, it ends its season with challenging tests against No. 4 Rutgers, No. 15 Penn State and No. 10 Maryland.