Women’s soccer drops 3rd-straight game

By Steve Shonder

Women’s soccer’s hot start in conference play came to a screeching halt as two weekend losses have dropped it out of the top four teams in the conference.

The Huskies (5-9-2, 3-3-2 MAC) fell to the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (12-2-1, 6-1-1 MAC), 3-1, Friday in Miami, Ohio. Against the Ball State Cardinals (9-4-2, 5-3 MAC), the Huskies lost 1-0 Sunday in Muncie, Ind.

The Huskies are now on their second-longest losing streak of the season, after their four-game skid to start the season.

Miami (Ohio)

The Huskies weren’t able to keep up with the RedHawks in the opening half of Friday’s game.

Miami scored twice, both goals coming from freshman Kat Zalar, and fired 11 shots to NIU’s one. The Huskies were able to manufacture a goal late in the first half. Freshman Allie Ingham put one into the back of the net off a corner kick in the 37th minute.

“It felt good,” Ingham said. It was “just getting open, getting a head on the rebound, to make that shot. We thought we could come back at the half.”

NIU wasn’t able to build on that goal, but it did manage to get a few more opportunities. The offense forced Miami goalkeeper Vic Maniaci to make a pair of big saves.

Miami’s Kelsey Dinges put the match out of reach in the 56th minute with her MAC-leading ninth goal of the season to put the RedHawks up 3-1.

“Miami is a very good team,” said head coach John Ross. “They did what they wanted to do. We have to make it harder for them to play their game. After the second goal, we started to get our share. We really though we were still in it at halftime, just down one goal.”

Ball State

The Cardinals and Huskies played each other to a draw through the first half, with neither team conceding too many chances. Freshman Lauren Gierman had a solid chance early, but the Cardinals were able to make the save. Ross liked what he saw from the team despite the loss.

“I thought our kids played hard,” Ross said. “It was a great bounce-back performance. Sometimes in soccer you give everything you have and it doesn’t go your way. We’d like to have that effort next Friday against Eastern Michigan.

“We saw improvements, but it comes down to we have to find the back of the net. If we can get that one through — I know we got one Friday — we’ll be able to get that pressure off the offense.”

In the 53rd minute, Ball State got on the board. Victoria Jacobs headed in a corner kick that was taken by Gabby Veldman. Despite furious pressure by the Huskies, they weren’t able to respond to the goal.

Allowing the set piece goal causes some concern for NIU, which had tightened down defensively. Ross said the goal wasn’t so much due to poor defending, but rather good execution by Ball State.

“We’re done a pretty good job,” Ross said. “After Green Bay, we made a commitment to defending corner kicks, and we’ve done pretty well. Sometimes they get a good cross in with a head of steam behind and it doesn’t go our way. Giving up set piece goals doesn’t make the players happy.”