KENT, Ohio | Women soccer’s (4-10-5, 3-6-2 Mid-American Conference) upset run in the MAC tournament came to an end Sunday when the team lost 1-0 to the Kent State University Golden Flashes, the second seed in the MAC Championship.
Junior midfielder Kristen Brots scored off of a rebound in the 86th minute of Sunday’s championship match to give Kent State a 1-0 lead with four minutes left to play, and the Golden Flashes hung on for the victory to end the Huskies’ season.
The match was a defensive battle as NIU was able to keep the Kent State offense and Jenna Hellstrom, MAC Offensive Player of the Year and Kent State senior forward, silent for the majority of the game. Ashleah McDonald, Kent State sophomore goalkeeper, made a few key saves against the Huskies.
In the 32nd minute, Kent State looked to have scored off of a free kick, but the goal was disallowed after the free kick was deemed to have an illegal start as the play began too early and the players were not set. The Golden Flashes were forced to retake the free kick, and the shot landed directly in NIU sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Lee’s hands. In the 40th minute, NIU received three straight corner kicks, but Kent State did not allow the Huskies to get a shot on.
In the 73rd minute, NIU freshman midfielder Kelsey Chope took a long shot that was deflected over the crossbar by McDonald. Chope took another long shot in the 76th minute that NIU sophomore forward Taylor Sarver almost got on the end of but McDonald pounced on the ball after not securing the initial save.
In the 80th minute, Sarver attacked a misplay by the Kent State defense and had a breakaway but McDonald came up with another huge save.
NIU senior defender Alex Elias, junior midfielder Allie Ingham and Lee were named to the MAC Women’s Soccer All-Tournament Team. Sarver was named to the All-MAC First Team on Nov.3.
Sunday was NIU’s first championship appearance since 2006, and getting there did not come without some adversity. NIU entered the tournament as the eighth seed and needed a bit of luck to get there. NIU lost its last regular season match Oct. 27 against Western Michigan University and needed a Bowling Green State University loss to University of Toledo after to qualify for the MAC tournament. Bowling Green fell, 2-1, and NIU advanced to the MAC tournament.
The Huskies defeated top-seeded Ball State University in a 4-3 penalty shootout in the quarterfinals matchup, and fourth-seed Western Michigan, 3-2, in the semifinals.