Regular Season Finale Holds Postseason Implications for Huskies

GO HUSKIES Junior defender Kayra Thompson
Junior defender Kayra Thompson

Oct. 24, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012
2 p.m.
Toledo, Ohio

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Toledo is 7-10-1 overall this season and 5-4-1 in the Mid-American Conference heading into the final showdown Thursday afternoon. The Rockets are currently in sixth place with 16 points and can finish as high as fourth with a win versus NIU and help from Kent State and Ball State. Last Sunday, UT fell to KSU last Sunday, 2-1, surrendering a goal in the final seven minutes off a corner kick.

Rachel MacLeod is the Rockets top scorer with five goals and two assists this season. However, UT centreback Natalia Gaitan is second in scoring with four goals to her credit. Gaitan was co-captain of Columbia's National Team at the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2010 FIFA Women's World Cup.

With 11 points to their credit on three wins and two draws, the Huskies are tied with Ohio for seventh place in the Mid-American Conference. A win for NIU at Toledo would punch its ticket to the tournament for the first time since 2010. The top-eight teams qualify. See the standings below.

MAC Overall
Team W L T Pts Pct. W L T Pct. Stk
Miami (Ohio)* 10 0 0 30 3.0 16 2 0 .889 W11
Central Michigan* 8 2 0 24 2.4 12 5 1 .694 W1
Eastern Michigan* 7 3 0 21 2.1 10 6 1 .618 W2
Kent State* 6 3 1 19 1.9 11 4 2 .706 W1
Ball State* 5 3 2 17 1.7 8 6 4 .556 L1
Toledo* 4 4 1 16 1.6 7 10 1 .417 L1
Northern Illinois $ 3 5 2 11 1.1 7 8 2 .471 L1
Ohio $ 3 5 1 10 1.1 8 8 1 .500 W1
Buffalo $ 3 6 1 10 1.000 5 11 2 .333 W1
Western Michigan 1 4 4 7 .778 5 8 4 .412 L1
Akron 1 8 1 4 .4 5 11 1 .324 L1
Bowling Green 0 9 1 1 .1 1 16 1 .083 L8

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois0OT
September 23, 2011
DeKalb, Ill.
Northern Illinois Takes MAC Favorite Toledo to Overtime; Falls 1-0
The Northern Illinois women's soccer opened the Mid-American Conference season against defending champion and preseason favorite Toledo Friday night and sent the match to overtime, 0-0. With 3:10 left in the first overtime, the Rockets scored the golden goal to defeat the Huskies, 1-0.

* - denotes tournament qualifier
$ - denotes team still seeking to qualify

The Huskies sit tied with the Bobcats because of the "lost game" procedure. Ohio's match with Buffalo was ruled a no contest, due to unplayable conditions with no makeup game scheduled. Cancellation of the game added point deficits for the involved teams, which altered the conference standings. The total number of points will be divided by the number of games played, hence the tie between NIU and OU.

While the Huskies No. 1 objective Thursday will be a win, NIU will be following results around the MAC to see how everything plays out. Ohio is at Kent State and Akron is at Buffalo. The Huskies can finish as high as seventh in the MAC and as low as ninth, pending results from their own match and the aforementioned Mid-American Conference matches.

The Huskies trail the Rockets in the all-time series, 4-11-2, and are winless against Toledo in their last 10 matches versus UT. Northern Illinois' last triumph occurred in DeKalb during the 2003 season, a 2-1 decision. Since then, the Rockets have won eight times and tied twice, including a penalty shootout in the 2007 Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Northern Illinois hit the road for a pair of matches at MAC East foes Kent State and Ohio. The Huskies split the weekend, defeating KSU, 1-0, and falling to OU, 1-0. NIU started and finished the weekend in seventh place in the MAC standings.

Kent State created multiple chances against the Huskies, but were unable to convert due to the play of goalkeeper Amy Carr. The teams played a scoreless first half and for most of the match as well, until Kate Wirthlin struck gold in the 71st minute on a one-timer from Nicole Gobbo to lift NIU over KSU, 1-0.

Two days later in Ohio, the Huskies again played to a scoreless draw in the first half. Northern Illinois created its chances to score, outshooting the Bobcats, 17-10, but were unable to find the back of the net. Cat Rogers struck in the 62nd minute for Ohio, defeating NIU, 1-0.

Clean sheets always make for a better night sleep... In soccer and in life. Northern Illinois posted their sixth clean sheet last Friday afternoon at Kent State with its 1-0 win. It was NIU's first shutout since Sept. 28 at Akron, also a 1-0 victory. It is the most shutouts by the Huskies since the team posted nine in 2008.

Six different players have two-or-more goals this season for Northern Illinois. Leading the Pack is F Cori Frankenberg with four goals, followed by F Shelbi Johnson, D Courtney Ksiazek, M Allie McBride, F Sara Spaulding and M Kate Wirthlin tied with two apiece.

The Huskies have scored four goals in direct correlation from corner kicks in their 18 matches this season. Versus Bowling Green Oct. 5, NIU totaled two goals from the corner and also converted against South Dakota (Sept. 16) and Loyola (Sept. 2). All goals on the corner have occurred at home.

Junior defender Courtney Ksiazek is one of three players to play over 1,400 minutes this season. Ksiazek leads the field players in minutes  played with 1,472 on the clock. Though it is not rare a feet in the defensive third, the Naperville, Ill. native has gone the full monty in 14 of the Huskies 17 matches.

With six shutouts to her credit this season and 15 goals allowed in 1,530 minutes, goalkeeper Amy Carr currently owns a goals against average of 0.882. Though the defensive third is a big part as well, Carr is ranked No. 62 of 150 in the country for the lowest GAA. As a team, NIU ranks 65th of 330 in goals against average this season (0.907).

While Cori Frankenberg has been the leader in most of NIU's offensive efforts, the team has still managed to distribute its scoring as 10 different Huskies have scored goals.

Goals are important in order for any team or individual to succeed. Just ask any coach or athlete that and they will echo that sentimate. In their 17 contests this fall, the Huskies have scored 18 goals and allowed 16 for a +2 goal differential. With one match remaining in the regular season, Northern Illinois will be looking to finish 2012 with a positive goal differential for the first time since 2007 when it scored 19 and allowed 15.

Thursday's match is the regular season finale. Should the Huskies qualify for the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the quarterfinals will begin Sunday October 28 at a site to be determined. The top-four seeds in the tournament will host a quarterfinal match.



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