Sept. 13, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's soccer team (2-1-1), takes to the road for the first time this season with a pair of weekend matches in Chicago. Friday night at 7 p.m., the Huskies face the Loyola Ramblers (1-4) and Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., NIU battles the DePaul Blue Demons (2-3).
A stout defense has been the key to NIU's season thus far. Opponents have scored just one goal against the Huskies, the deciding marker in Sunday's 1-0 loss to Western Illinois, after NIU opened the year with 331:58 shutout minutes. As a result, the Huskies sit atop the MAC statistical rankings in goals allowed, goals against average and shutouts. NIU also ranks eighth nationally in goals against average, thanks in part to goalkeeper Lindsey Curnock (Batavia, Ill./Batavia), who leads the MAC with two shutouts.
"I'm happy with the way our defense has played this season," said associate head coach Paul Jobson. "We've been strong back there and our defense has kept us in games. They have done a great job under pressure and without the benefits of having a lot of goals scored in front of them."
Newcomer Jestina Orlando (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South/North Dakota State), who struck for the game-winner in the season opener, and Maddie Lehman (St. Charles, Ill./North), who scored her second career goal on a perfectly-timed header to propel NIU to a 1-0 overtime triumph over UW-Green Bay last Friday, account for the two Huskie scores this season. Despite scoring only two goals in four matches, NIU ranks second in the MAC in shots per game with 15.5, demonstrating the potential to increase its offensive production.
"We are not worried about our scoring production because we know the goals will come," said Jobson. "We keep working to create scoring opportunities and eventually those opportunities will be converted into goals."
This weekend's matches will be a test, not only because they are away from home, but because the teams are very familiar with each other.
"The girls on both sides know each other well because they have played together in high school and on club teams for many years," said Jobson. "The teams also know each other well, so these matches will really come down to execution and who capitalizes on opportunities."
NIU owns a 4-1-1 lead in its all-time series against Loyola and a 3-2-0 advantage against DePaul.