Field hockey proves dominance, volleyball struggles in Big Ten

    Field Hockey: 8-2 (3-0 B1G)

    No. 11 Northwestern faced a stiff test this weekend when two top-six opponents came into Evanston. The Wildcats passed with flying colors.

    On Friday, NU welcomed undefeated No. 4 Penn State to town. The Wildcats trailed 1-0 at halftime, and then scored three times in the first 12 minutes after the break to take a 3-1 lead. The teams traded goals down the stretch, but NU created the majority of the chances, firing 10 shots in the second half, five of which went in. Pascale Massey’s goal with 15 minutes left was the difference as Northwestern emerged with a 5-3 victory, handing the Nittany Lions their first loss of the season. Puck Pentenga led the way with a goal and two assists, and Lindsay von der Luft made seven saves.

    Things didn’t get much easier Sunday when the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins rolled in to Lakeside Field. NU struck just 1:42 in through Massey’s third goal of the year, a goal that held up through the rest of the first half. Maryland struck ten minutes into the second half, and after NU regained the lead, Maryland tied it back up less than two minutes later. But it didn’t stay tied for long because Massey scored her second goal of the game less than five minutes later to give NU a 3-2 lead. Maryland got a penalty corner in the final minute and got a shot on goal, but von der Luft made the save in the closing seconds to clinch the victory.

    Four road games against unranked teams are up next for the Wildcats, who will surely see their ranking jump after two gutsy performances this weekend. Next up is a date with Rutgers on Friday, September 30.

    Volleyball: 7-7 (0-2 B1G)

    Competition in the most challenging volleyball conference in the country began this week for the Wildcats, and they left their two matches with as many wins as they entered them with.

    In Indiana on Wednesday, the Wildcats faced a tough test against a solid Hoosiers team. Indiana rolled 25-16 in the first set. The second set was closer, but the Hoosiers pulled away for a 25-19 victory. The Wildcats picked up their game when it counted in the third set, fending off two match points and winning the final three points to take the frame 27-25. Both offenses came to play in the fourth set, but Indiana’s hitting percentage of .440 was just too much for the ‘Cats, who dropped the set 25-20, handing Indiana a four-set win.The difference in the match was a near triple-double by Indiana setter Megan Tallman, who picked up a whopping 46 assists.

    NU’s first home match of the season finally arrived Sunday, and it featured the 2014 national champion Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State won in straights last year in Happy Valley, but in Evanston, it was a different story, as the Wildcats knocked off the then-No. 3 ranked team in the country in five sets.

    In a bit of an act of revenge, this year’s 18th-ranked Penn State team took care of business against the Wildcats. NU led 11-5 and also 16-12, but Penn State battled back, fighting off a set point and winning the first set 27-25. The next two sets were very different. NU committed far too many errors and Penn State capitalized, winning both sets two and three by 25-17 scores. NU hit just .093 as a team on the match.

    With the second-hardest schedule in the nation, the Wildcats' road will only get more challenging. They will have a midweek matchup with No. 17 Ohio State before meeting with Iowa at home on Saturday night.


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