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 week, 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.
“Guys, guys!” you shout, “The football team won this week! They really did!”
That’s cool. But in the WNUR non-revenue sports sector, we think there are much more important goings-on to update you about. While the football team has five games left on the schedule, our other sports are hurdling towards the postseason. Let’s see how they are trending.
Field Hockey – Trending: Even
Field hockey was the first team to finish its season, and NU finished 6-2 in the Big Ten (13-5 overall) after rounding out the season with a 8-2 victory over Michigan State on Sunday. That put the ‘Cats in a three-way tie for second in the Big Ten. Based on the goal differential tiebreaker, NU finished 4th in the Big Ten, last of the three tied teams (the other two were Penn State and Maryland). Northwestern will play the No. 5 seed, Rutgers (9-8, 3-5 B1G), on Friday at 11:30 a.m. CT in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. Should Northwestern win, a matchup with No. 4 ranked Michigan looms in the semifinals.
Northwestern had some bad luck with the tiebreakers, but if it can get past Michigan in a potential semifinal matchup, it has a great chance to win the Big Ten tournament. Don’t let the finish in the Big Ten season fool you, Northwestern is still ranked No. 8 nationally and can do serious damage in the postseason. You can see the Big Ten tournament bracket here.
Men’s Soccer – Trending: Up
Men’s soccer is far from the best non-revenue sport at Northwestern. But with the season winding down, the ‘Cats have been able to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The team has won three of its last four matchups to improve to 5-10 on the season. And despite a 1-6 record in the Big Ten, Northwestern is in a good position to finish 7th out of the nine Big Ten teams and avoid the dreaded 8-9 play-in game to the Big Ten tournament.
The ‘Cats beat Rutgers 3-0 last week for their first win in conference, and their last game of the season is against fellow bottom-dweller Penn State, who is also 1-6 in the Big Ten. The trip to Happy Valley on Sunday will be crucial for the team; with a win, Northwestern would finish 7th and play the No. 2 seed in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. With a tie or a loss, Northwestern would finish 8th and have to face Rutgers again in the 8-9 play-in game, and even with a win would then have to face the No. 1 seed a day later.
Women’s Soccer – Trending: Up
Women’s soccer is in a great place in the Big Ten heading into their final game on Saturday. Thanks to a 1-0 victory over Nebraska over the weekend, Northwestern has officially clinched a spot in the Big Ten tournament. The ‘Cats are currently tied for 3rd in the Big Ten with Minnesota, but by virtue of a win against the Gophers last week, they hold the tiebreaker. Northwestern’s last game of the season is a winnable one against Michigan State, who is 12th in the Big Ten. With a win in that game, NU would clinch a home game in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Northwestern will not be able to defend its Big Ten regular season crown from last season, but still sits in a good position heading into the Big Ten tournament.
Volleyball – Trending: Down
Northwestern volleyball has fallen victim to a stacked Big Ten conference in the latter half of the season. After one of the best non-conference showings in program history, the Big Ten slate has not gone nearly as well. Northwestern has only won two sets in its last five matches – all losses for the ‘Cats. That rough patch has left the volleyball team at 2-10 in conference and 12th in the Big Ten.
The bright side? They get to play Rutgers (who is currently 1-69 in conference in its four years as a member of the Big Ten) at home on Wednesday.