Women’s soccer begins MAC schedule in search of offense

By Steve Shonder

Women’s soccer is throwing down the gauntlet on the road for its first conference games.

The Huskies (2-6) will take on the Central Michigan Chippewas (2-5-1) 3 p.m. Friday in Mount Pleasant, Mich. They will then travel to Toledo, Ohio, to take on the Toledo Rockets (3-4-1) noon Sunday.

The Huskies will look for some redemption this weekend. Central Michigan and Toledo beat the Huskies last season, and Toledo beat NIU at home to spoil its undefeated home record in the final game of the 2013 season.

“We’re definitely looking for some revenge,” said junior Emily Nulty. “We had a perfect home streak until we played [Toledo]. I think everyone’s excited to play Central [Michigan] and Toledo because we always have a hard time against Central Michigan, too.”

Central Michigan

The Chippewas have been dismal on the road this season but are undefeated in their two home games. The non-conference struggles are something the Chippewas encountered last season, going 0-7-1. But, they’ve dominated MAC play and haven’t finished worse than third since 2007.

Central Michigan is led by senior Laura Gosse, who leads CMU with six goals. The Huskies will be wary of Gosse because she scored twice in the first half when the two teams last met, Oct. 13.

The Chippewas’ goalie situation should have NIU’s strikers chomping at the bit. Sophomore goalkeeper Maddy Bunnell has allowed 14 goals, but she has made 41 saves. Backup sophomore Heather Laeufer allowed three goals and made 12 saves in her one-game appearance.

With CMU allowing so many opportunities, the Huskies will have to finish their chances. Senior Allie McBride said the team’s focus has been on capitalizing on its chances.

“I think we’re been really focusing on offense,” McBride said. “We create a lot of very good opportunities and we’ve had some problems actually finishing. So, hopefully this weekend the switch is flipped because we’ve been working really hard on it. So, I’m expecting some goals this weekend.”


The Rockets haven’t been able to get their offense going. Their offense ranks at the bottom of the conference with only six goals this season. Three goals came in their first game of the season. That’s not for lack of trying: Toledo has fired off 102 shots in its eight games.

The Rockets have committed 85 fouls this season, which is not far off from the Huskies’ 81 fouls. The key for NIU will be to play a clean game and capitalize on Toledo’s mistakes.

After the defense fell apart against Green Bay, allowing four goals, freshman goalkeeper Amy Annala said the Huskies’ back line wouldn’t get exposed this time.

“For the weekend, we’re switching our pressure up,” Annala said. “We’re trying something that we worked on, on the road in Hawaii. … We all know what we need to work on. We all know that [we should be] working on switching our marks and communicating on who needs to mark up on, [defending] set pieces and breakaways. I think we have that in mind and we’re just really going to focus on that in practice.”

With the Huskies getting back on the road for the first time since Aug. 31, head coach John Ross said the road trip could be a good thing for the team.

“Actually, I think it should help just to be together as a team before games and kind of be sequestered on the road together,” Ross said. “Having some experience, having some meals together always helps. Sometimes when it goes for a couple weeks at a time, it gets pretty long. You want to be at home, but we haven’t been on the road for a while, so we’re looking forward to getting out on the road and hanging out as a team.”