Fall Sports Roundup: Northwestern women’s sports off to remarkable season


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Junior midfielder Maddie Zimmer. Zimmer and Northwestern field hockey are off to an undefeated start.

Northwestern has only held classes for three days, but some student-athletes have been on campus for weeks already, preparing for games and competing in matchups in Evanston and around the country.

Some fall sports have been in full swing for over a month. Here’s a breakdown of everything that’s happened so far with Wildcat athletics this fall, including information about the multiple ranked programs on campus and the biggest matchups so far.  

Field Hockey

Currently ranked No. 1 in the country, field hockey is off to its best start since 1985. NU remains undefeated and boasts a 12-game winning streak dating back to last season –  the second-longest streak in program history.

While the Wildcats escaped two narrow matchups last weekend, they have been unstoppable for the most part. Graduate forward Bente Baekers is lighting up on offense, leading the nation in goals and goals per game. She also recently became the first NU student-athlete to ever win back to back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week awards.

Women’s Soccer

Winning five straight games, women’s soccer continues to cement its case as one of the nation’s premier teams. Now ranked No. 9 in the country and sporting victories over then-No. 19 Xavier and then-No. 6 Stanford, NU heads to Nebraska for its first Big Ten road game Thursday. 

Senior defender Danika Austin, senior midfielder Rowan Lapi, sophomore defender Emma Phillips and graduate student goalkeeper Mia Raben anchor a backline that has allowed the second fewest goals in the conference. The quartet of players have all received individual weekly conference or national honors for their roles in the defense.

Men’s Soccer

After losing a large batch of seniors, men’s soccer retooled with 11 new faces, including a top-five national recruiting class. Despite the buzz, the 2022 season has gotten off to a rough start.

NU has just one win, a 2-1 victory over Houston Baptist, in its first seven matches. A four-match goalless streak from Aug. 28 to Sept. 9 saw the Wildcats go 0-3-2 before the home victory against the Huskies. NU has found the back of the net just seven times, but has conceded a Big Ten-most 16 goals.

Cross Country

The Cats turned out in force during their first two meets of the season. NU dominated at the NIU Huskie Challenge, with freshman Skye Ellis leading the team to victory and seven of the top eight finishes. 2022 NCAA qualifier Rachel McCardell snagged an eighth place finish at the Big Ten Preview and graduate student Ari Marks took tenth place.

With a win at NIU and a third place finish at the Big Ten Preview, the Cats are currently ranked fourth in the Midwest, ahead of last season’s Big Ten champions, Minnesota. NU returns to action on September 30.


The Cats are off to their best start since 2012. NU is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround from last season, when it kicked off the season at 1-4. Now, the Cats are receiving votes in the national poll, and rank in the top ten nationally in hitting percentage.

The combination of a top-ten recruiting class and dynamic returners has been key for NU. Senior outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara has been a star for the Cats, already tallying 164 this season, and junior setter Alexa Rousseau has been an important playmaker, too. After a 11-1 start in non-conference play, NU kicks off Big Ten competition against Illinois and Wisconsin this weekend. 

Women’s Golf

One of NU’s most storied programs, women’s golf experienced a rocky start at their first tournament of the year. The Cats traveled to New Mexico to compete in the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational, where they finished 10th of 18 teams.

Graduate student Kelly Sim led the Cats, tying for 15th overall. Sim, a veteran, will lead the team alongside junior Jennifer Cai, who played a dynamic 2021 season.

Men’s Golf

Men’s golf has only played in one tournament this fall, the Fighting Illini Intercollegiate, and it was a tough showing. NU finished second to last out of 15 teams, 17 strokes above 13th-place Pepperdine.

The Wildcats do return serious talent. Unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection and conference individual title winner David Nyfjäll is back — he finished tied for 56th in the weekend tournament. Senior John Driscoll III and sophomore Cameron Adam also make their returns.

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