Oct. 27, 2013
DeKALB, Ill. - It was Senior Day for women's soccer at the NIU Soccer Complex as the Huskies faced the Ohio Bobcats (7-6-5, 3-4-3 in the MAC) on Sunday afternoon. Huskies Samantha Hill (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) and Sara Spaulding (Milton, Wis./Milton) notched scores in the game, giving the enough firepower to win 2-1. With the victory, the Huskies clinched a spot in the MAC Championship Tournament. The winning effort also moves NIU up to seventh in the MAC as the team is now 4-4-2 in conference play.
The first half of this affair showed the defensive ability of both squads. Scoring opportunities came at a premium, and even when an opportunity arose, it was a difficult shot to make. As such, neither team could get on the scoreboard during the first 45 minutes. The score at the half was 0-0.
The second half was radically different from the first. It started to change around the 60th minute. Both the Huskie and Bobcat offenses found more in-close opportunities. In the 63rd minute, one chance translated to success for the Huskies. Samantha Hill had been struggling to play for much of this season due to a knee injury. The senior forward received the ball very close to the Bobcat goal with opposing goalkeeper Mattie Liston out of position. Hill punched in the goal, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead at the time.
The remainder of the game was exciting on either side. Ohio had some opportunities close to NIU's net, but each time, the ball was cleared out of the box or the play was stopped when Amy Carr (Hemel Hempstead, England/Townsend Church of England) snatched up the ball to help reset the defense.
NIU had its opportunities as well. At the 74th minute, the offense had a three-on-one opportunity in the Bobcat defensive zone go to waste after an errant pass allowed Ohio defenders to get back into the play. The non-scoring couldn't last forever with how the game was going, and the Huskies were able to get another in the 81st minute.
(Appleton, Wis./Appleton East) took a corner kick for NIU and hit it hard into group of Huskies and Bobcats near the goal. The ball deflected off of Liston's hands, and Sara Spaulding
was there to clean up and score for second goal of the season. The goal gave NIU a 2-0 lead and some much needed insurance. That second goal would prove useful almost immediately.
The Bobcats rushed down the field shortly after Spaulding's goal. They forced the ball close to the Huskie net. After deflections off of multiple players, Carly Manso struck for Ohio, cutting the Huskie lead back to one. However, that would be it for Ohio, and the game ended with NIU leading 2-1.
"We're in the playoffs now," said Head Coach John Ross. "We even moved up a seed. It's nice to get an extra game for these seniors. Now they have more to look forward to than just one last game against Toledo."
The Huskies will host their last game of the regular season, which is set for 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 31. They'll be facing the Toledo Rockets in that one. Following the conclusion of that and other games around the MAC, the official postseason schedule will be released.