Oct. 26, 2008
PDF of Box Score
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's soccer team kept pace in the Mid-American Conference race with a tough 1-0 victory over Ball State Sunday at the new NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
Northern Illinois senior Thea Johnson (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor HS) scored the only goal of the game on what Huskie head coach Carrie Barker called a "scrappy" goal. With players from both teams scrambling in front of the Ball State goal, Johnson got a foot on the ball and put it into the left side of the net for her fifth goal of the season.
"The ball was played in the box and everyone was fighting for possession," Barker said. "Thea got hold of it and she ripped it. She was determined and got the goal out of it."
The win lifted Northern Illinois' record to 9-4-5 on the year, 5-3-2 in the MAC, with just one game remaining in the regular season. The Huskies will play Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on Thursday with MAC Tournament play scheduled to begin at campus sites on Sunday, Nov. 2. Ball State dropped to 8-9-1, 4-5-1 on the year with the loss.
Both teams battled through conditions that saw sustained winds of 30-39 miles per hour with gusts as high as 50 mph. The wind affected the Huskies' game plan going in, Barker said.
"We definitely had a strategy in this weather," she said. "You have to understand the wind and we discussed it before the game and at half. The conditions were strange but we stayed focused and found a way to get the job done."
Northern Illinois, behind five saves by goalkeeper Lindsey Curnock, earned its sixth shut out victory of the season and held an opponent scoreless for the 10th time.
"Our seniors stepped up and we did a great job defensively," Barker said. "It's a credit to our defense, not just our goalkeeper but all of our defenders. We played excellent team defense."
The Huskies had several chances to score in the first half as Ball State played their defenders close to midfield and caught NIU offsides nine times in the contest. Northern Illinois also got the ball past those defenders several times on the break, but could not finish the play with a goal.
"We had several opportunities in the first half," Barker said. "Their defenders played high and we were able to get in on their keeper a couple of times. At halftime we stressed that when you are in, put the opponents' away. You can dominate an opponent, but at the end of the day, you have to find a way to win the game."
The Huskies honored Johnson and fellow seniors Erin Fahey (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln Way Central), Jenna Clausen (Racine, Wisc./Horlick), Jestina Orlando (Park Ridge, Ill./North Dakota State) and Maddie Lehman (St. Charles, Ill./North) prior to the game.
-- NIU --