Women’s soccer left looking for offense

By Steve Shonder

Women’s soccer’s home field doesn’t look like much of an advantage right now.

The Huskies (2-6) fell to the Green Bay Phoenix, 4-0, Thursday at the Soccer and Track & Field Complex. They were even with the Phoenix in the corner kick total at five, but Green Bay managed to convert three of its corner kicks into goals.

NIU came out early on the attack, getting two quick corners in the first 10 minutes, but it failed to convert those opportunities. The Huskies totaled six shots in the game, but only one was on goal. Senior Ashley Neubeck said the players’ failure to make the most of their chances cost them the game.

“I think the big thing is finishing,” Neubeck said. “We got up the field. In the past, we haven’t always been able to do that. We got up in our offensive third, but we struggled to finish the ball.”

Green Bay struck first on a corner in the 28th minute taken by Abby Juzwik. Juzwik’s kick flew into a mass of bodies in front of the NIU net. Heidi Hartmann headed it home to put the Phoenix up 1-0.

Green Bay converted two more of its corner kicks in the same fashion with Hannah Kernen heading one into goal in the 62nd minute and Hartmann striking again in the 71st minute. It was the same play each time: The Phoenix stacked the box and managed to get a head on the ball first.

Head coach John Ross said it was a credit to Green Bay’s attack that its corners were so successful.

“Usually we’re pretty good in the air, and we’re pretty good on corner, but we just needed to attack the ball,” Ross said. Green Bay is “very strong in the air and [it] had great services. I think what we’re going to need is be the aggressors, attacking the ball.”

The missed chances were a continuing trend for the Huskies. After failing to score against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Sept. 14 despite several chances, the same situation came up Thursday. Ross said the Huskies were strong early, but they weren’t able to put it together.

“We played really well in the first half,” Ross said. “We have to take advantage of our opportunities. In the attacking third, we got quality looks and we need to make sure we do better with it. We [have] to capitalize on those opportunities and put the ball in the back of the net early. We haven’t, and it changes the game, and it changes the game plan, as well.”

This was the Huskies’ last game before MAC play. They enter with a slightly worse record than last season, when the Huskies were 2-5-1 in non-conference play. Despite the loss, Neubeck said NIU is going to be ready to shake up the MAC.

“I think it just motivates us to kind of prove ourselves,” Neubeck said. “Our record hasn’t shown how good of a team we are, but I think we’re going to come out in conference. This is just kind of a boost up, spirits up, learn from this game.”