Women’s soccer wins two conference games

By Krystal Megan

Women’s soccer kicked off Mid-American Conference play with a hot start as the team recorded back-to-back road wins this weekend.

The Huskies (5-3-1, 2-0 MAC) defeated the University of Akron Zips 2-1 Friday in Akron, Ohio and defeated the University at Buffalo Bulls (3-5-1, 1-1 MAC) 2-0 Sunday in Buffalo, New York.

Three of the four goal scorers for NIU picked up their first goals as Huskies over the weekend. NIU has had 10 different players put a ball in the back of the net this season, with seven players recording their first Huskie goals.

“One of our strengths is our depth,” Head Coach John Ross said. “We have a lot of talented players here, [and] we can run some numbers. At any point anybody can change the game for us, so we’re very fortunate to have that luxury. [Players] are putting egos aside and doing what’s best for the team and taking advantage of when their opportunity arises.”


Friday – Akron

The Huskies scored two goals in the first half and were able to hang on 2-1, despite Akron’s goal in minute 55.

Freshman defender Haley Hoppe scored her first collegiate goal in minute 22 when redshirt junior midfielder Lauren Gierman served in a corner kick that Hoppe was able to head into the goal. Gierman picked up her team-leading fourth assist on the goal.

Sophomore forward Kyleigh Dominguez scored her first goal as a Huskie unassisted in minute 37 when her shot just outside the box from the middle of the field got past Zips freshman goalkeeper Amani Jiu. Dominguez is a transfer from the University of Cincinnati where she scored two goals last season.

Zips junior midfielder Erica Schrader shot a free kick past NIU senior goalkeeper Amy Annala to slice into the Huskies lead at 2-1, but NIU was able to fend off the Zips the rest of the way.

Both teams took 10 shots, with NIU targeting six on goal and Akron nearing three on frame. The Huskies edged the Zips in corner kicks 4-2, while Akron corralled four saves to NIU’s two saves.


Sunday – Buffalo

Annala picked up save number 300 of her NIU career, while junior forward Taylor Sarver and sophomore midfielder Natalie Yass provided the offense to propel the Huskies past the Bulls 2-0.

With Annala’s second save of the game, she became the third NIU goalkeeper to reach the 300-save mark.

Ross said the accomplishment is even nicer because it came on a shutout.

“She was big for us today,” Ross said. “[Buffalo] had a couple of quality chances, and she came up big. That’s what we’ve come to expect from her. She delivered today, and she has throughout her career so far.”

Sarver netted her third goal of the season in minute 48 to give NIU a 1-0 lead on the assist from sophomore midfielder Kelsey Chope.

Yass scored her first collegiate goal in minute 53 on a penalty kick that she got past Bulls senior goalkeeper Laura Dougall and into the upper right corner of the net.

The Huskies looked in control for the rest of the match and finished with the victory.

Ross said he knew it was going to be a tough trip because of the warm weather and the quality of the teams NIU was playing. Prior to Sunday’s game, Buffalo had only lost two home games under Head Coach Shawn Burke.

“Our kids came in on a mission this trip and wanted to get the most points possible that were out there,” Ross said. “They took it second by second from the opening kickoff at Akron through the last whistle at Buffalo and fought for every second in between there.”

The Bulls held the edge in shots (21) and shots on goal (8), but Dougall was only able to make two saves on NIU’s four shots on goal. The Huskies took 12 total shots in the game.

Buffalo looked to have the upper hand through the first 12 minutes of action, but once the Huskies got going, the first half was evenly matched.

The Bulls looked to have scored in minute 34, but the goal was called back because Buffalo was offsides.

NIU will return home for three consecutive matches, starting 6 p.m. Friday against the University of Toledo Rockets at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex.