Football and basketball get a lot of coverage at Northwestern. However, as many avid Wildcats fans would tell you, those two sports are not and never have been the best sports on campus. Every Friday, I am going to let you, the casual Northwestern sports fan, in on all the fun that happens outside the confines of majestic Ryan Field and the illustrious Allstate Arena. Go (lesser-known) ‘Cats.

A not-so-stellar homecoming was the main storyline of the past week for Northwestern athletics. While questions about playcalling, quarterback controversy, and offensive line play swirled around the Northwestern media, other ‘Cats teams were still in action, and with much better results. Let’s look at a few of the teams that were in action this week.

Volleyball

Last weekend, Northwestern split its two matches at Beardsley Gym in Evanston, defeating Indiana in a five-set thriller and dropping the Sunday match to No. 18 Purdue in straight sets. Northwestern is now 12-6 (2-4 B1G) on the season, but sits tied for 10th in the Big Ten, which, as mentioned last week, is one of the most loaded conferences in the NCAA.

Despite the conference standings, Northwestern still has reason to be optimistic heading into the weekend. Maryland is one of the teams with which Northwestern is tied for 10th, so not only are they beatable, but a victory would catapult Northwestern up multiple places in the conference standings. Ohio State will be a slightly more difficult game on Saturday, but the Buckeyes are only 1-4 on the road. Northwestern, which has already topped its win total from last season, has a good chance to increase its conference record to .500 this weekend.

Both games (Friday at 7 CT vs Maryland and Saturday at 7 CT vs Ohio State) will be broadcast live on WNUR’s Mixlr page from DePaul’s McGrath-Phillips Arena. For more on the volleyball team, check out WNUR’s First Serve podcast.

Men’s Soccer

It has been a rough start to the year for Northwestern’s men’s soccer team. They are 4-9 overall and winless in 5 conference matches. Nonetheless, the past week has been a bright spot for the ‘Cats. They held on for a 3-2 win over Western Illinois on Monday and stymied cross-town rivals DePaul 2-0 on Wednesday in a much-needed respite from conference play.

The soccer team only has four games left on the season, but two of them come against the two teams that are also currently winless in the Big Ten – Rutgers and Penn State. If Northwestern can carry the momentum of this week and get at least 4 points from those two matchups, they have a very good chance to get in the Big Ten tournament (8 of the 9 teams in the Big Ten make it each year).

The crucial game against Rutgers will be at home on Sunday at noon. It will be aired on WNUR’s Mixlr page.

Women’s Soccer

After dropping three points that the team needed against Illinois, Northwestern came back to earn its best victory of the season against No. 23 Minnesota on Thursday. Goals from Brenna Lovera and Michelle Chernesky were both assisted by Hannah Davison as goalkeeper Lauren Clem earned her 43rd career shutout. The ‘Cats now sit at 4-3-1 in the Big Ten and 7-6-2 overall, which puts them tied for fifth in the Big Ten.

While the loss against Illinois hurt NU’s chances of moving up in the Big Ten, they have a great chance to gain some ground at home against Wisconsin, which sits in fourth in conference, on Sunday at 3:30 CT. The game will be broadcast on air by WNUR Sports. For a deeper look into the success of the women’s soccer team, check out staff member Amit Mallik’s piece on the team.

Field Hockey

The Wildcats picked up a huge conference win in Iowa on Friday afternoon, winning 5-4 in overtime. Puck Pentenga scored three goals–her first career hat trick, and the ‘Cats improved to 5-1 in Big Ten play. The ‘Cats were ranked no. 9 in this week’s poll, and have moved up to 8th in RPI. They’ll host UMass on Sunday before heading to Michigan and hosting Michigan State to round out the regular season.