Junior forward Pascale Massey was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and freshman midfielder Saar de Breij was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, the conference announced Tuesday. Separately, Northwestern moved to No. 6 in the NFHCA rankings, also released Tuesday.
Massey led the Wildcats with 3 total goals last weekend, helping NU beat both then-No. 4 Penn State and then-No. 6 Maryland. She scored the eventual game-winning goal in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Nittany Lions, then added both the opening goal and the winning score in Sunday’s 3-2 victory against the Terrapins.
It was a breakout weekend for Massey, who, despite starting every game this season on the forward line, had scored only 1 goal entering Friday. She had tallied just 3 goals in her first two seasons in Evanston, one of which was cut short by an injury.
de Breij, meanwhile, scored a goal in each game off the bench. Her Friday tally completed a 2-minute stretch in which the Cats scored 3 goals. On Sunday, she gave NU a brief 2-1 lead with an early second half score.
The Cats, who moved up five spots from No. 11 in the coaches poll, rose more than any other team this week. Penn State, now No. 5, remains ahead of NU despite the Cats’ head-to-head victory, though NU is now ranked above No. 8 Maryland. No. 9 Michigan is the fourth Big Ten team in the top 10.
One Northwestern team has found a home during renovations to Welsh-Ryan Arena, as the athletic department announced in a release Tuesday that the men’s basketball team will play its home games in the 2017-2018 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
The arena, which is a half-hour or more drive from the Wildcats’ Evanston campus, is the current host of DePaul’s basketball teams. With the Blue Demons planning to move into a new downtown arena in the fall of 2017, NU will temporarily take their place as Allstate Arena’s college basketball tenant.
Athletic department spokesman Paul Kennedy said venue size and proximity to Evanston were major factors in the decision to move 2017-2018 home games to Allstate Arena, which seats roughly 18,500. Additionally, he said that the arena’s past experience hosting college basketball games and its ability to commit to a number of necessary open dates played a part in the decision.
Tuesday’s announcement did not discuss arrangements for game-day transportation for students to the arena. Kennedy said providing transportation from Evanston for students is a priority, but a plan to do so isn’t in place yet.
Additionally, Kennedy said that details about plans for the other teams displaced by the renovations, the women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams, will be made public soon.
In June, the athletic department announced plans for a “complete renovation” of Welsh-Ryan Arena, slated to cost roughly $110 million and take place from the end of the 2016-2017 basketball season until the fall of 2018.
This post has been updated with comment from Paul Kennedy.
Northwestern just didn’t have enough on Saturday night.
Its offense struggled with efficiency, its defense struggled to get off the field, and No. 20 Nebraska’s offense, led by senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr., put up 556 total yards in a 24-13 Wildcats defeat.
The game started with a strange play on the Cornhuskers’ first drive, as Nebraska running back Terrell Newby broke free for a 49-yard run but fumbled the ball as he dove untouched for a touchdown. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a touchback and NU possession.
The Cornhuskers eventually drew first blood, however, after nailing a 23-yard field goal to take a 3-0 opening lead early in the second. The Cats struck back, though, when Thorson got to the edge on a designed quarterback run and turned on the afterburners on a 42-yard touchdown to give NU a 7-3 lead.
That lead stood briefly after a goal-line stand ended with junior safety Godwin Igwebuike ripping the ball away from Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo and the Cats recovering the fumble. But on the ensuing drive, the Cornhuskers finally broke through for a touchdown after a 59-yard reception by receiver Alonzo Moore set up a short Newby run for six. NU had a chance to tie with a 40-yard field goal at the end of the half but instead chose to attempt a fake, which was unsuccessful.
The Cats got the ball to start the second half, but a Thorson interception on a throw to the end zone stopped a promising drive. Nebraska marched back down the field on the next drive, and Armstrong hit on a four-yard touchdown pass to Cethan Carter on third down to take a 17-7 lead.
NU responded quickly, with Thorson hitting senior wideout Austin Carr for a 24-yard touchdown, but senior kicker Jack Mitchell missed the extra point, leaving the score at 17-13. Mitchell continued his nightmare start to the season after a missed field goal in the first quarter.
From there, Nebraska controlled the game, constantly finding holes in the Cats’ defense through the air and wearing it down on the ground. An end-around touchdown by receiver Jordan Westerkamp late in the third quarter gave Nebraska an insurmountable lead, as NU’s offense couldn’t find a way to score for the rest of the game.
Stats to know
Thorson: 24-for-37, one touchdown, two interceptions; 10 carries for 43 yards and one touchdown.
Justin Jackson: 20 carries for 79 yards
Austin Carr: Career-high eight catches for 109 yards and one touchdown; 392 yards for the season is more than any NU receiver had in 2015
Igwebuike: 15 tackles, forced fumble
Mitchell: 0-for-1 on field goals, 1-for-2 on extra points; now 1-for-4 on field goals for the season.
Armstrong: 246 yards passing with one touchdown, 132 yards rushing
The Wildcats will have 19 games on the Big Ten Network over the course of the season. In addition, NU will have 3 games covered by ESPN. The Cats’ two match-ups against Rutgers on Jan. 12 and Feb. 18 will both be on ESPNU, while their game at Penn State on Dec. 27 will feature on ESPN2.
The schedule this year poses some different challenges for NU this season. After taking out Wisconsin at home in arguable their strongest win of the season, the Cats will have to travel to Madison to play the Badgers on the road this year. In addition, NU will lose its home-court advantage that it had against Michigan State last season, as the Cats will travel to play the Spartans on Dec. 30.
However, Northwestern does have some home games that may play to its advantage. In changes from last season, Iowa comes to Evanston to play at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Jan. 15, and NU will get Michigan at home this year late in the season on Mar. 1.
Until then, the Cats will look to tip things off in their home opener against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m.
After taking out Purdue 2-0 for their ninth-straight victory on Sunday, the Wildcats jumped to No. 21 in the NSCAA Coaches Poll released Tuesday.
This is the highest Northwestern has been ranked all season, as the team ranked 24th on Sept. 6 before dropping out of the rankings last week. The Cats joined Minnesota, Penn State and Rutgers as Big Ten teams among the Top 25.
NU has been on a tear recently and hasn’t allowed a goal in the month of September. The only goal the Cats have allowed all season was in a 2-1 win over DePaul on Aug. 25 in their third match.
As it begins to enter the heart of Big Ten play, competition should heat up for NU. On Friday, the Cats will take on No. 22 Rutgers, their first ranked opponent of the year. NU managed to take out Rutgers 1-0 at home last year, but the Scarlet Knights have already proven their might this year, as they topped No. 23 Connecticut 2-0 on Aug. 28, and are coming off a national semifinals appearance last season.
After finishing up a six-match home-stand with the win over the Boilermakers, NU will be on the road for the next two weeks as it look to keep up the momentum from its perfect start to the season.
Sophomore forward Eva van Agt was named Big Ten offensive player of the week, the conference announced Tuesday.
van Agt, who has started every game this season for the Wildcats, led the team with 3 goals in a weekend sweep of Ohio State and Kent State. She scored 2 of her goals against the Flashes on Sunday and also added an assist in the 4-1 victory. van Agt scored on all three of her shot attempts over the two games.
van Agt got her name on the scoresheet in a variety of ways. She converted from a penalty corner on Friday, then displayed some individual ability to score her first goal Sunday before capping her weekend with an acrobatic finish on a pass from junior back Sophia Miller.
After finishing her freshman year third on the team in scoring, she is currently tied for third with 4 goals on the season. The award is the first of van Agt’s career, and the first award an NU player has received this season.
The Cats, who jumped from No. 15 to No. 11 in the NFHCA Coaches rankings this week, will return to action Friday by hosting No. 4 Penn State.
Northwestern’s 0-0 double overtime tie against then-No. 3 Indiana was certainly surprising, given the Wildcats’ difficult start to the season, and the goalkeeper who oversaw the shutout received some conference recognition as a result.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Robbie White was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after making six saves in Sunday’s game against the Hoosiers, the Big Ten announced Tuesday.
In his first career start for NU, White faced 28 shots and constant pressure from a strong Indiana attack, but he managed to stand tall and make the saves needed when called upon to break the Cats’ five-game losing streak. White is the first NU player to win Defensive Player of the Week since now-graduated goalkeeper Zak Allen won the award in Oct. 2015.
It’s bittersweet news for the young keeper, as the Cats announced today that White will undergo surgery for a lower extremity injury he suffered in the late stages of the game and is expected to miss eight to ten weeks as a result. Nevertheless, White’s auspicious start leaves hope that he can solidify NU’s goalkeeper position in the future.
Senior cornerback Matthew Harris is expected to miss Saturday’s game against Duke, coach Pat Fitzgerald said at Monday’s press conference.
Harris suffered an upper-body injury while covering a kickoff in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Illinois State. He walked off the field and into the locker room with the help of trainers and was ruled out for the remainder of the game shortly afterwards
Losing Harris for any amount of time is a big blow for Northwestern, as the captain is a major part of a banged-up Wildcats’ secondary and was named to the All-Big Ten third team after his work last season. Redshirt freshman cornerback Trae Williams took over after Harris’ injury Saturday and will likely be asked to fill in until he returns.
Williams and sophomore Montre Hartage are listed on the Week 3 depth chart as NU’s starters, and true freshmen Roderick Campbell and Brian Bullock are backups. Redshirt freshman Alonzo Mayo, who saw some playing time against Illinois State but also left with an injury, did not appear on the Week 3 two-deep.
After losing their opening game against the MAC’s Western Michigan, the Wildcats managed to hit a new low by losing on a last-second field goal at home to FCS team Illinois State, 9-7.
Redbirds quarterback Jake Kolbe threw for 287 yards and the Illinois State offense did just enough to hold off NU, who falls to 0-2 on the season.
The Cats opted to lean on sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson offensively, as Thorson threw a career-high 41 times while junior running back Justin Jackson got just 11 carries before exiting the game in the fourth quarter. But the offense never truly got into gear, giving the Redbirds a chance to pull the upset.
Meanwhile, NU’s defense gave up 369 yards to the Redbirds but came up with some timely big plays to keep the game within reach throughout, including an interception in the end zone by sophomore cornerback Montre Hartage in the second quarter and another pick by sophomore safety Jared McGee in the third.
The first half was a struggle for both teams, but after taking over with 5:49 left in the second quarter, the Redbirds marched down the field in 11 plays and punctuated the drive with a six-yard touchdown run from running back George Moreira late in the half, breaking the deadlock and giving Illinois State a 6-0 lead at halftime.
The second half looked a lot like the first for NU, until a 12-play, 55-yard drive by the Cats ended with a fourth-down touchdown throw from Thorson to senior receiver Austin Carr that ended up deciding the game. After senior kicker Jack Mitchell hit the extra point, NU took a one point lead that it wouldn’t relinquish until the game-ending kick.
Northwestern stats to know
Clayton Thorson: 17-for-41 with 191 yards and one touchdown
Justin Jackson: 11 carries for 39 yards, did not play for much of the fourth quarter
Austin Carr: Career-high seven catches for 73 yards