Women’s soccer’s tourney run halted

By Steve Shonder

Women’s soccer’s run in the MAC Tournament hit a brick wall when its offense failed to mount much of a counterattack Friday.

The Huskies fell to the defending MAC Tournament champion Western Michigan Broncos, 1-0, in Buffalo, N.Y. It was NIU’s first MAC semifinals appearance since 2007. The Buffalo Bulls defeated Western Michigan, 1-0, Sunday to win the MAC Championship.

NIU fired off the opening salvo in the second minute when senior midfielder Ashley Neubeck sent a shot just over the top corner of the net. The Huskies were unable to get another shot in the remaining 88 minutes.

“We needed to play more of our game with simple passes,” Neubeck said. “Western [Michigan] just determined how we played.”

The Broncos held possession for the majority of the first half and kept NIU on defense. Freshman goalkeeper Amy Annala made seven saves. Sophomore defender Jackie Wandt said the defense adjusted well to the Broncos’ attack in the second half.

“It was a little rough at first, but I think we started to pick things up towards the end,” Wandt said. “We lost, but we did better in the end. We did as well as we could have done under that kind of pressure.”

Freshman Emma Kahn put the Broncos up 1-0 in the 32nd minute. Kahn fielded a cross into the box and sent the ball off the post before recovering to put the rebound into the net. Kahn’s goal proved to be the game winner.

NIU had a better showing in the second half, but it was unable to develop anything from its attacks.

The NIU attack was plagued by bad luck and missed opportunities. In the 73rd minute, freshman forward Lauren Gierman sent a cross in the box, but WMU goalkeeper Stephanie Heber punched it clear before anyone else could get there.

The game marked the furthest the Huskies have gotten in the MAC Tournament since head coach John Ross took the reins in 2012.

Neubeck said she and her fellow seniors think the team is well-positioned to make deeper runs and the underclassmen will have to shoulder the responsibly of building on that success.

“We hit a lot of milestones this season,” Neubeck said. “We haven’t gotten this far in a long time. This program has made leaps and bounds.

“We have helped build this program from the bottom, and we left it in great shape. We gave everything we had. But now it’s up to them [the underclassmen] to continue that, and I believe they will.”