Women’s soccer drops pair, remains winless

By Steve Shonder

Hawaii wasn’t quite the paradise women’s soccer had hoped for.

The Huskies (0-4) fell 3-2 in a tightly contested match with the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine (1-2) early Friday before getting outmatched by the Seattle Redhawks (2-1), 4-1, on Sunday.


Against Hawaii, NIU broke open scoring in the 30th minute when sophomore Alex Elias headed senior Gwen Sabo’s corner kick into the back of the net. The Huskies’ first lead of the season only lasted five minutes before Hawaii’s Kama Pascua scored the equalizer.

In the 44th minute, the Rainbow Wahine struck again. Dani Crawford knocked in a shot to take the lead. A minute later, Storm Kenui put Hawaii up 3-1 with a strong finish off an assist from Sonest Furtado.

Head coach John Ross said the Huskies just weren’t able to capitalize on their lead.

“We need to take care of our opportunities,” Ross said. “We need to complete the simple passes, so we can get stretched out offensively … more gaps between players. There wasn’t room for attacks.”

The NIU offense wasn’t able to strike back until the 81st minute when junior Nicole Gobbo scored her first goal of the season. Both teams were down to 10 players each after Hawaii’s Lidia Battaglia exited the game with a red card in the 66th minute. Sabo was tagged with a red card in the 73rd minute, negating the advantage. In the seven minutes of Hawaii playing with 10 players, the Huskies only registered three shots.

At match’s end, there were 25 fouls between the two teams, with the Huskies owning 12 of them. Ross said the team matched Hawaii’s physical play well despite the amount of fouls.

“For us to be successful, we have to be physical,” Ross said. “We play at our best when it’s a physical game.”


Seattle proved to be a tougher challenge for the Huskies. The Redhawks got on the board early when Taylor Ritzman finished a corner kick in the 14th minute. NIU was able to keep Seattle from growing its 1-0 lead in the first half, but the Redhawks struck early and often in the second half. Stephanie Verdoia, reigning WAC offensive player of the year, scored a pair of goals in the 55th and 59th minutes.

NIU responded when senior Maggie Renfro notched her first career goal in the 61st minute, but it was too late. The Redhawks put the game away five minutes later when Julia Moravec scored to make it 4-1.

Ross said the team did well against quality opponents and he expects the Huskies to show serious improvements in their next match.

“It’s always a challenge playing away from home,” Ross said. “It was a good opportunity for the team to bond and play in some adverse situations. I think they got something for later in the year and we’ll see them improve in their play. It’s better to go through a trial at the beginning of the season than at the end, so we can fix it.”

The four-game skid to start the season continues a winless road streak that plagued the Huskies last season.

“It’s something we’re talking about,” Ross said. “One reason why we went on a long road trip early is so we can get the right play in place and fine tune it for the future.”

Sophomore Jackie Wandt, who suffered a broken leg Oct. 25 against Kent State, was cleared for full practice last week and should see the field in NIU’s next homestand. Ross said she was “really close” and will provide a boost to the NIU defense, which has struggled early this season.