NIU Opens Mid-American Conference Play Against Toledo and Ball State



Sept. 22, 2011

Season Stats | Top Drawer Soccer National Column | VIDEO: Extra Time - Loyola

DEKALB, Ill. - Fresh off its first win of the season in its final non-conference contest versus Loyola, 2-0, Northern Illinois will open Mid-American Conference play Friday and continue Sunday. The Huskies will host Toledo Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. and follow up Sept. 25 with a contest at Ball State, starting at noon central.

The Huskies dominated with their calculated play from start-to-finish against Loyola last Sunday on Senior Day, honoring Meaghan Bennett, Becca Ford, Megan Harry and Kelsey Passaglia before the contest. The Huskies and the Ramblers were tied 0-0 after the opening stanza, but took high-percentage shots. NIU outshot Loyola 8-1 in that span and recorded five on frame.

Nine minutes into the second half, the Huskies attacked with Ford heading a failed clearance into the box, leading a sliding Passaglia to sweep the ball into the net. LU's keeper was unable to smother the ball and sophomore Frances Boukidis put the ball in net for the win. 20 minutes later, Boukidis collected a volley from classmate Taylor Conter, and led Passaglia to the 18-yard box to fire a shot, that ricocheted off the post, where Boukidis collected for the second goal.

Bennett and Amy Carr combined for the Huskies second-consecutive shutout and extended NIU's scoreless streak to 200 minutes.

Junior Lauren Eberts was recognized by the Mid-American Conference for her academic aptitude and athletic performances last week as she was named a Scholar Athlete of Week. The Pickerington, Ohio native and her teammates controlled the defensive third, allowing only a total of four shots on goal in shutouts against Eastern Illinois and Loyola. She is a public health major and owns a 3.723 grade point average.

Who knew celebrating senior day at the conclusion of non-conference, instead of the end of season, would receive national attention? Top Drawer Soccer, one of the nation's top college and youth soccer websites, wrote about Northern Illinois' celebration and even mentioned the NIU seniors by name. Click the "Top Drawer Soccer National Column" link at the top of the page to view.

Since the Huskies contest against Wisconsin Sept. 8, NIU's defense has been a shell of its former self. Though the team allowed 23 shots to the Badgers, the back line has played brilliantly for Northern Illinois. The quartet of Taylor Conter, Lauren Eberts, Shelbi Johnson and Lauren Solomon have radiated quality since then, only surrendering four shots on goal in NIU's last two matches.

In their last two matches, the Huskies lead their opponents 28-10 in corner kicks, racking up 15 against Loyola last Sunday and 13 hosting Eastern Illinois Sept. 13. For the season, NIU trails its opponents by a minuscule two attempts, 38-36. The Huskies have created many chances for themselves in four overtime periods this season, leading Northern Iowa and Eastern Illinois 6-1 in corners taken.

Sophomore Frances Boukidis became the first Huskie since Karen Enockson (2005-07) to score two goals in a match last Sunday. Enockson accomplished the feat Sept. 28, 2007 against Bowling Green in NIU's 3-2 route over the Falcons. Senior Kelsey Passaglia registered assists on both goals and was the first since Megan Harry on Aug. 29, 2010 versus Northern Iowa to total two assists in a match.

After her two assist performance against Loyola, senior Kelsey Passaglia is two assists shy of tying for No. 10 on the career assists list. Passaglia currently has six assists and with eight helpers, Passalia would tie former Huskie Denise Papke (2000-03).

The MAC's defending regular season champion and preseason coaches poll favorite has had a similar start to its season as the Huskies have, sitting 2-5-1, with wins over Niagara and IPFW. The Rockets however, had a favorable 1-1 tie against Louisville Aug. 26, who recently upset the defending national champion Notre Dame, breaking the Irish' 62-match home unbeaten streak. UT is currently on a three match skid, with losses to Iowa State, Texas Tech and TCU.

Leading the way offensively for the Rockets this season is Kristen Lynn, who has racked up seven goals so far, and is supported by Rachel MacLeod's five assists and two goals in eight matches. Junior Natalia Gaitan leads the team defensively at center back. Over the summer, Gaitan served as the co-captain for the Colombian National Team at the 2011 FIFA World Cup, the first-time the South American nation ever qualified for the tournament.

All-time, Northern Illinois trails Toledo in the all-time series 4-10-2. Toledo has not lost a match to Northern Illinois since 2003, a 2-1 victory by the Huskies. The two teams last tied in 2009, 0-0, and the Rockets defeated the Huskies last season 4-0.

The Cardinals currently sit 5-3-1 in 2011 and are currently on a four-match unbeaten streak, including three-straight wins. Ball State will travel to Western Michigan Friday to face the Broncos before hosting NIU. In their last three wins, BSU has outscored its opponents 8-1 and in nine matches this season, outscored its opponents 16-13.

Brigit Reder has totaled five goals and an assist to lead the team with 11 points, followed by Jasmine Moses with four goals. Becca Sutton has been the main distributor from the midfield with four helpers in Ball State's eight matches. Aubrey Buhler has been tops in net with a 4-2-1 mark, two shutouts and a 1.17 goals against average.

The Huskies lead the all-time series 5-4-3 and reclaimed the series lead last season with its third-consecutive victory over BSU last year, a 1-0 triumph in overtime. Ball State's last victory came in 2006, 1-0, en route to the Mid-American Conference regular season championship and in 2007, the two team's tied 0-0, also en route to a Cardinals MAC championship. Head Coach Carrie Barker is 3-0 all-time versus BSU.

Quick blurbs that warrant mention:

- Northern Illinois is 4-8-2 all-time in Mid-American Conference openers and 1-1-1 under Carrie Barker.
- The win by NIU against Loyola broke up the Huskies winless non-conference season, which would have been the third all-time in women's soccer history and the first since 2001.
- The win over Loyola was also the Huskies first since 1996, snapping a four-match winless streak against the Ramblers.

The Huskies will return to the friendly confines of NIU Soccer & Track and Field Complex for a pair of matches against Mid-American Buckeye State opponents, Akron (Sept. 30) and Ohio (Oct. 2). The match with the Zips kicks off at 4 p.m., while Sunday's matinee begins at 1 p.m.



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