Illinois, Northwestern, Red Stars, & Chicago Union make up ‘Random Hawlights’


CHICAGO – This week’s collection of sports highlights on WGN News Now features a few teams in a few different sports.

But one thing about all of them remains the same: They were worthy of “Random Hawlights.”!

(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Illinois and Northwestern both got a few of them in their Week 0 openers on Saturday, especially the Wildcats.

Their 31-28 win over Nebraska in Dublin was arguably the game of the weekend and gets the Wildcats off to a good start for the season and the Big Ten.

Because of their efforst, three players were named Big Ten Players of the Week, including defensive back Cameron Mitchell. His six tackles, two pass break-ups and interception got him the defensive player of the week honor.

Punter Ryan Akers was outstanding and helped pin the Cornhuskers deep in their own end all afternoon. That included three punts that landed inside Nebraska’s ten-yard line, which were critical to the victory and got him the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honor.

Ryan Hilinsky got to share that honor on the offensive end as he threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns that helped pace the victory.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Sharing the award was Illinois running back Chase Brown, who had an effort to remember in the Illini’s season opening win over Wyoming in Champaign.

He finished with three total touchdowns – two on the ground and one on a pass from quarterback Tommy DeVito – to play a major part in Illinois’ 38-6 victory over the Cowboys.

Brown’s 151 rushing yards were the most for any Illini runner in an opener since at least 1945.

In her two seasons with the club, she’s been among the best players in the entire National Women’s Soccer League and a big reason why they’ve enjoyed success.

Mallory Pugh was an MVP finalist with the Red Stars in 2021 as they advanced to the league’s championship and she’s kept up the pace so far during the 2022 season.

On Saturday night, she added yet another memorable moment to her tenure in Chicago and, in the process, had a first in the NWSL in half a decade.

Pugh had a pair of goals and assists in the club’s 4-0 win over Racing Louisville FC that keeps them in the sixth and final playoff spot in the NWSL. Teammate Yuki Nagasato also had a pair of goals in the win.

Per the Red Stars, she became the first in the NWSL to have two goals and two assists in the same match since Marta did so with the Orlando Pride in 2017.

They weren’t able to come home with the championship, but what a year it was for the Chicago Union ultimate team in 2022.

They finished with a franchise-best regular season record of 12-1 then defeated Colorado on Friday in the AUDL semifinals in Madison to advance to the championship game for the first time. They’d lose to the New York Empire in the final, but their 13-2 overall record completed the most successful season to date for the Union.

Larry Hawley featured all of these in “Random Hawlights” for this week on WGN News Now and you can watch that in the video above.

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