Women’s soccer must make adjustments


Freshman forward Kate Sanfilippo hops over a defender in an Oct. 9 game against Akron. The Zips went on to win the game 2-1, giving the Huskies a four-game losing streak.

By Raven Boyd

It’s probably time for women’s soccer (3-12-3, 2-6-3 MAC) to change its focus from just defense and add some offense.

NIU finished the 2015 season with an unexpected turnaround, finishing its last four games with three ties and one win, but struggled all season to get anything going. The team seemed to focus a good part of the season on defense, and rightfully so.

At times I questioned the lack of execution on the field, but from looking closely at the statistics and watching the matches, it became clear that something didn’t match up.

Teams that rank high in the MAC are nearing or exceeding 30 assists a season. These assists reflect cohesive teamwork on the field, and that’s what produces results.

The Huskies started nonconference play with a tie and win against Iowa State (6-12, 0-8 Big 12) and Lewis, (10-7-2, 8-5-2 GLVC), but things quickly took a turn for the worse from there. The team already had six losses on the season before the start of conference play.

NIU led the MAC conference in fouls by a margin of 26 and in yellow card warnings as well. The team seemed to start each game with strikes against them, averaging 13.5 fouls a game. The Huskies were consistently outshot in addition to tallying fouls that lead to them surrendering possession of the ball. They averaged just 10 shots a game, the lowest in the conference.

Head coach John Ross spoke confidently about the Huskies throughout the season, echoing the team “is better than their record,” and I certainly agree. Regardless of the difficult season, the team fought hard all year and pulled through, finishing much stronger than it began.

I have great expectations for this team moving forward. The Huskies were shutout by Ball State (14-3-3, 10-1 MAC) in a devastating home loss 4-0 in just the fourth week of the regular season; however, they returned from the game with a spark that didn’t go unrecognized throughout the rest of the year.

There is no question the Huskies can compete, especially after holding their own against leading MAC contenders like Western Michigan(11-3-5, 8-1-2 MAC).

Sophomore goalkeeper Amy Annala played a career game against Ohio (5-13, 3-8 MAC) and recorded 17 saves early in the regular season. Annala is an important part of the Huskies’ defense and has led the MAC with an average of 6.36 saves a game.

It’s clear that goalkeeping is a strength for the team. It ended the year with 107 recorded saves. The Huskies were second only to Bowling Green, who picked up 132 saves.

The team showed bursts of potential throughout the season, but it wasn’t consistent enough to make them a solid team. With a few adjustments and more hard play, NIU should be in for a strong 2016 season.