April 4, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois' women's soccer team earned the Illinois Cup title with three consecutive victories against intrastate competition last weekend at the spring exhibition tournament on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A dramatic victory by the Huskies over Western Illinois decided the championship.
"While it is a spring tournament, it is a big win for us and shows the girls that their hard work is paying off," said head coach Marci Miller. "We proved that we are able to compete with the best teams in the state and get good results. It provides our team with additional motivation to work hard and not be complacent."
Teams from around the state including NIU, WIU, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Loyola, DePaul, Northwestern and host Illinois were paired into two four-team brackets.
NIU won its first contest in the tournament, 1-0 over EIU, on a goal by Lisa Maier (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg). In game two, the Huskies got a goal from Hannah Nussbaum (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) and were tied with Illinois State 1-1 in a game decided by penalty kicks. In the extra session, all six NIU players scored and Lindsey Curnock (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) made a big save to lift the Cardinal and Black to victory.
After Northwestern and Illinois suffered early losses, the bracket set up for the Huskies to meet WIU in the Illinois Cup title match. Elaine Eliadis (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg) scored in regulation for a 1-1 tie that again went to penalty kicks. There, NIU got goals from Karen Enockson (St. Charles, Ill/East), Maddie Lehman (St. Charles, Ill./North), Erin Fahey (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) and Jenna Clausen (Racine, Wisc./Horlick) to capture the tournament title.
"Our team really came together well and everyone contributed during the weekend," Miller said. "All our players got minutes and it was an awesome tournament for the girls. We were very good on our penalty kicks and Lindsey was good in goal and made the key save. Lisa (Maier) had a strong tournament for us and did a good job pressuring up front."
The tournament win highlights the Huskies' spring schedule. NIU is looking to build upon an eight-win season that culminated in the school's first MAC Championship Game appearance since 1998.
"We played well against Wisconsin earlier in the spring, but we do not want to be satisfied with losing," Miller added. "We keep pushing to get better to compete with top teams. That continues to be our goal."