Huskies to Face Central Michigan in MAC Quarterfinals

GO HUSKIES NIU leading scorer Cori Frankenberg
NIU leading scorer Cori Frankenberg

Oct. 26, 2012

Gobbo: MAC Offensive POTW | Match Notes | Live Stats

Sunday, October 28, 2012
11 a.m. CT
Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

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In a must win situation at Toledo in the regular season finale for a Mid-American Conference Tournament berth, the Northern Illinois women’s soccer team rallied from 1-0 deficit in the final third of the match to defeat the Rockets 2-1. Kayra Thompson’s goal in the 69th minute tied the match and Nicole Gobbo won the match with her score in the 77th minute.

With all the rest of the MAC finales being played simultaneously, NIU was in a must win situation at the time with Buffalo ahead of Akron, 1-0, following a penalty kick in the 73rd minute with time expiring and Ohio owning a tiebreaker over the Huskies, despite trailing 3-0 to Kent State. Akron tied its match in the 80th minute and went on to win 1:11 into overtime to deny the Bulls a chance at a tournament berth.

The final 30 minutes of the MAC regular season were 30 minutes worthy of a championship soccer finish and a whirlwind to follow across the conference.

• It took a superhuman effort from CMU’s Christen Chiesa with 2:37 left in double overtime to defeat the Huskies Oct. 7. With her left foot, Chiesa scored from the top left corner of the 18-yard box to lift the Chippewas, 2-1
• NIU trails CMU, 6-11, in the all-time series and is 0-2 in the tournament in Mt. Pleasant
• The Huskies last win at CMU was a 2-0 decision Oct. 13, 2006
• Northern Illinois clinched it’s first MAC Tournament berth since 2010, also a match at Central Michigan (L, 2-1)
• NIU has won two Mid-American Conference Tournaments (1997, 1998) and appeared in the tournament final in 2006, falling to Toledo
• It is the Huskies eighth trip all-time trip to the MAC Tournament since 1997
• The Huskies are 8-4-1 all-time in MAC Tournament play

Northern Illinois finished MAC play with a 4-5-2 record, had 11 goals for and 11 goals againt in those contests. As evidence by the numbers, the Huskies games have been tightly contested and outside of the two draws, only a goal has seperated NIU or its opponent in all 11 games in 2012. Reads like a recipe for success in a cookbook eh?

Central Michigan finished the regular season with an impressive 13-5-1 record and was 9-2-0 in the MAC for a second place finish behind Miami (Ohio) (10-0-1). The Chippewas have won six of their last seven matches this season by a combined 15-3. The team’s defensive efforts have been strong this season as the Chips have posted a MAC-leading 10 clean sheet. CMU’s only losses to MAC opponents came at the hands of the Redhawks (1-0 OT) and Eastern Michigan (2-0). The Chippewas are well seasoned as their preseason schedule pitted them against three nationally ranked opponents where they finished with a 0-2-1 record in those contests, with losses to No. 6 Penn State and No. 14 Texas A&M and a draw at No. 12 Marquette.

Stefanie Turner has been a burner in her 1,353 minutes in net, stopping 52 shots and only allowing 11 goals with nine shutouts in her 10 wins this season. The Chips offense comes from a plethora of sources, with 14 different goal contributors this season. Jennifer Gassman leads the team in scoring with four goals and two assists (10 points).

Northern Illinois defeated it’s fellow MAC West foe Toledo thursday afternoon for the first time since a regular season clash at Toledo Oct. 10, 2003. Leading up to yesterday’s win, the Huskies were 0-8-2, including a penalty shootout loss to Toledo in the 2007 MAC Tournament semifinals.

Sunday earmarks the beginning of the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the eight teams in this year’s tournament. To see what lies ahead for the Huskies and the rest of the field, see the back page of the packet to see the tournament bracket.

She may be a young freshman, but Nicole Gobbo has made an impact for the Huskies befitting of a veteran in the late season, combining for two goals and an assist in her last five appearances. In fact, her name has been stamped one way or another on three of the Huskies last four goals.

The native of Bartlett, Ill., has started the last three matches for  Northern Illinois at forward and scored the match winner Thursday at Toledo. Her first goal of the season was a match-tying goal versus Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 12. Her lone helper was on Kate Wirthlin’s game-winning goal at Kent State Oct. 19.

Following her game winning goal versus Toledo Thursday afternoon, freshman Nicole Gobbo was named the MAC’s Offensive Player of the Week, becoming the first NIU freshman since Amy Carr in 2010 to win the award. The Bartlett, Ill. native is the second Huskie to win the award this season. Cori Frankenberg earned the distinction Sept. 17 following NIU’s 4-1 rout over South Dakota.

While it has been two seasons since NIU last qualified for the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the Huskies have a history in the tournament, winning the first two championships in 1997 and 1998 and owning a 8-4-1 record in the tournament. Northern Illinois has also reached the finals, doing so in 2006, but falling to Toledo. The team’s only draw occurred in 2007, where the Huskies would fell in a penalty shootout in the semifinals to the Rockets, 4-3.

The clash between Northern Illinois and Central Michigan on Oct. 7 in DeKalb was a thriller. The Huskies took an early 1-0 lead on a penalty kick by Allie McBride in the 26th minute of play. The penalty was awarded following a hard foul by CMU defender Katie Slaughter that forced Frances Boukidis into the soccer post and out of the match.

With only 10 players on the field for the Chippewas, the Huskies dominated possession the rest of the first half, but the tides turned for NIU in the second period. CMU gained control of the match and possession of the ball and equalized the contest in the 75th minute on a goal by Autumn Hawkins.

In overtime and the match tied 1-1, the two teams were at a stalemate and appearred to be headed for a draw. With less than 3 minutes left in the match, Kaely Scholosser ran towards the slim daylight in the NIU defense and from the center of the 18-yard box, she slotted a ball back to Christen Chiesa at the corner of the box. Chiesa stepped back and bended the ball with her left foot into the far post’s side netting for the match-winner, 2-1.

Clean sheets always make for a better night sleep... In soccer and in life. Northern Illinois posted their sixth clean sheet last Oct. 19 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.

Seven 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 Nicole Gobbo, 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 two players to play over 1,500 minutes this season. Ksiazek leads the field players in minutes  played with 1,547 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 18 matches.

With six shutouts to her credit this season and 16 goals allowed in 1,620 minutes, goalkeeper Amy Carr currently owns a goals against average of 0.89. Though the defensive third is a big part as well, Carr started the week 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 18 contests this fall, the Huskies have scored 20 goals and allowed 17 for a +3 goal differential. 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.

The Huskies began their 20th season Aug. 17 at Drake and own the honor of being the Mid-American Conference’s oldest program. When NIU kicked off against Drake, it was the Huskies 365th contest. NIU has won two MAC Championships in their time and has reached the tournament championship three times since the conference began sponsoring women’s soccer in 1997.

When the Huskies played their first soccer game September 5, 1993, 12 members of the team were not born yet. NIU kicked off its program with a 7-0 win over Valparaiso, coincidentally, where NIU played its first exhibition match of the 2012 season.

Northern Illinois will hope to rebound after a 2011 season that saw the team finish 2-15-2 overall and 1-9 in the Mid-American Conference. The Huskies were selected to finish 11th in this season’s MAC Coaches Poll with 14 points, three points behind Bowling Green. Toledo was selected as the preseason favorite. Despite the low prognostication, the Huskies will be looking to qualify for the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2010.

Though exhibitions can have close to no correlation to the regular season, Northern Illinois finished 1-0-1 in the preseason and did not surrender a goal in their 180 minutes of play. Between the sticks, sophomore Deanna Libricz played 135 minutes in goal and was cool as a cucumber versus IPFW as she made two saves and was very quick to step and clear any passes or threats by the attack.

Should NIU win its match Sunday afternoon, the Huskies will head to Oxford, Ohio for the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament to face either Eastern Michigan or Toledo Nov. 2. The championship will be held two days later, Nov. 4. A loss Sunday would end NIU’s season. Miami won the regular season championship and earned homefield advantage throughout the conference tournament.



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