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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Women’s soccer falls in regular season finale

NIU settles for No. 5 seed in MAC with loss
Tim Dodge
Sophomore midfielder Aubrey Robertson kicks the ball away against the University at Buffalo on Oct. 12. The Huskies fell to Bowling Green State University 1-0 on Thursday. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

NIU women’s soccer ended its 2023 regular season on a sour note with a 1-0 loss to Bowling Green State University. 

The Huskies have also lost their opportunity at home-field advantage for the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament. A Kent State University victory over the University at Buffalo on Thursday quashed any hopes of NIU hosting the first round of postseason play.

NIU will finish the season as the No. 5 seed in the MAC.


A 31st-minute red card from sophomore forward Madison Looby put the Huskies at a disadvantage for the rest of the game. NIU played the last 59 minutes with 10 players as opposed to 11.

Bowling Green took advantage of the Huskies’ player shortage with a 40th minute goal from freshman forward Emma Stransky.

Sophomore midfielder Aubrey Robertson praised her team’s effort despite losing a player on the field.

“It was a full team effort from all 10,” Robertson said. “We didn’t think about ‘we have 10 players.’ We just had to act like we had all 11 and just play NIU soccer.”

The Falcons were the aggressors throughout the whole match, shooting 17 times total and recording nine shots on goal.

Redshirt senior Sadie McGill recorded 6 saves on 17 shots faced. Thursday’s goal allowed was McGill’s 16th allowed during the 2023 season.


NIU’s loss on Thursday was just their third shutout loss in conference play. The Huskies’ first scoreless conference loss was on Sept. 21 against Western Michigan University, the only undefeated MAC squad and No. 1 seed in the conference.

As a team, NIU logged just 8 shots with 4 shots on goal. Graduate student forward Sahara Zingano led the charge for the Huskies, recording 2 shots and 1 on goal.

Freshman forward Tyra King’s 19th-minute shot attempt flew just wide of the net, hitting the left post.

The midfielder trio of freshman Isabel Struble, graduate student Abby McHugh, and Robertson all recorded 1 shot on goal in the loss.


The Huskies finished the 2023 campaign with a 8-7-3 overall record and a 6-4-1 record in conference play. This is NIU’s first season finishing above .500 since 2008 and will be its first MAC Tournament appearance since 2017.

Before head coach Michael O’Neill took over in 2022, NIU women’s soccer won 10 games from 2018-2021.

“Just really proud of the group,” O’Neill said. “We had a rough month of September, started off slow in the MAC, and you know, they really kept some of their character and some of their resilience, and they responded better than I could ever imagine … They’ve even surprised themselves, I think, of how good they can be and how tough they can be.”


With the win, Bowling Green clinched the No. 2 seed in the MAC and will bypass the quarterfinals. 

No. 5 seed NIU will travel to Kent, Ohio, to face No. 4 seed Kent State in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament on Sunday. Start time for the game has yet to be determined.

“It would have been nice to get a higher seed, but at the end of the day, we met the goal we reached out to achieve,” McHugh said. “There’s a lot of positive things that came out of it, and I think the team is looking forward to going in and playing on Sunday and competing for a MAC title.”

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