Huskies prep for semifinals

By Krystal Ward

DeKALB | Women’s soccer (4-10-4, 3-6-2 Mid-American Conference) will take on the Western Michigan University Broncos (13-6-1, 6-4-1 MAC) in the MAC Tournament semifinals 3 p.m. Friday at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

NIU trails the all-time series against Western Michigan 5-12-4 and lost 2-1 to the Broncos Thursday in its final regular season match.

NIU sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Lee has stepped into a starting role after junior goalkeeper Amy Annala suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 16 against the University at Buffalo.

Lee saved two penalty kicks against Ball State University Sunday and had a 1.56 goals against average and 0.762 save percentage in MAC play this season.

Lee said both Ball State and Western Michigan are tough competitors, but the Broncos have an edge and aggressiveness the Huskies will have to look out for.

“We were up 1-0 last time we played them, and they came back and ended up getting two goals,” Lee said. “So that just shows that they’re resilient.”

Offensively, the Huskies are led by sophomore forward Taylor Sarver who scored the equalizing goal for NIU against Ball State to force overtime. Sarver led the team with four goals, nine points and one assist in conference play this season.

Head Coach John Ross said Western Michigan likes to spread their formation out a little more than Ball State, so the Huskies will have to be strong in their individual defense.

“Western Michigan will spread you out and see if they can isolate some players or overload sides,” Ross said. “We’re going to have to make sure we’re very strong in our one-[on]-one [defense] and making sure we get numbers back on the counterattack.”

The winner will play the victor of the other semifinal game between Kent State and Central Michigan University in the MAC Championship on Sunday.

The MAC Championship will take place at noon Sunday, and the winner will play in the NCAA Tournament beginning Nov. 11 in Kent, Ohio.