Oct. 25, 2013
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois faced Kent State (10-7-0, 5-4-0 in the MAC) on Friday night in a home match. It was the first home game that the women's soccer team played under the newly installed lights at the NIU Soccer Complex this season. The game was the very definition of a back-and-forth affair. Both teams applied pressure when they could, and in the end, NIU's pressure proved greater. The Huskies won 2-1 to keep rolling at home this season (5-0-1). NIU is now 3-4-3 in the MAC with more than a full-game lead over ninth place teams Toledo, Buffalo, and Akron.
The Huskies did not have an optimal start to the game. In just the second minute of play, Golden Flash forward Jessacca Gironda scored her 11th goal of the season to give her team an early 1-0 lead. After that, the game was a battle of possession. Shots were at a premium for both sides as the defensive units were excellent. In the process of the possession war, Jackie Wandt (Brookfield, Wis./Brookfield East) went down hard and sustained a leg injury after getting tangled up with a Kent State player.
"We don't know the exact severity of it right now," said Head Coach John Ross. "It's an injury to her shin. We'll have a better idea of it on Monday."
After the injury, the Huskies mounted their comeback. In the 38th minute, Cori Frankenberg (Appleton, Wis./Appleton East) scored her third goal of the season. Coming into this game, the Huskies were 5-0-1 in the previous six games that Frankenberg had tallied a score in, dating back to last season. With the score tied, the Huskies gained a chance to keep her streak alive. The teams went into halftime in a 1-1 tie.
The second half was defined by one crucial shot attempt and an exciting finish. The scoring attempt came during the 59th minute. A foul by the Golden Flashes set up a penalty kick for Allie McBride (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley). McBride shot to the right, opposing goaltender Stephanie Senn dove to the right, but she was late to react, and McBride had her second goal of the season, giving the Huskies a 2-1 lead. "I went into the shot only thinking positive thoughts," said McBride. "You need to stay positive in spots like that to give yourself a chance."
The next 20 minutes were fairly tame, but that didn't last until the end. In the final 10 minutes of play, the Golden Flashes put the Huskie defense to the test. The ball was constantly in NIU's defensive zone. While it was proving difficult for Kent State to get a shot off, the ball was frequently juggled within a group of Huskie defenders and Golden Flash forwards. However, NIU was able to clear the ball each time without allowing a shot. This allowed the Huskies to hold on and win 2-1.
"Both teams played a great game," said Ross. "We came into this match with an offensive gameplan of getting behind their defense and striking from there. Our defense was great too. It's nice to know we can rely on them to keep a lead for us."
The Huskies will face the Ohio Bobcats (7-5-5, 3-3-3 in the MAC) in another home game on Sunday, October 27. Ohio ended up winning its game against Toledo today, 2-1. As such, the Huskies remain just slightly behind the Bobcats in the MAC. With a win on Sunday, the Huskies can move up to seventh place in the conference. Depending on how the rest of the season goes, NIU could finish as high as sixth in the MAC.