Gobbo finds fresh approach on attack

By Steve Shonder

Being women’s soccer’s top-scoring threat isn’t enough for junior Nicole Gobbo’s plate. Now, she’s guiding a group of freshmen to offensive heights.

This season, Gobbo had played up top with a rotating pair of freshmen every game. As the veteran forward, she’s worked to get her freshman teammates acclimated to college play in a hurry. The partnership paid off in Friday’s 5-0 rout of Chicago State, with four goals coming from freshmen and Gobbo chipping in one.

“They’re doing a great job up there,” Gobbo said. “… I think they’re doing a great job up there, and they’re helping me and I’m helping them. So, I think it’s a great matchup up there.”

Gobbo has been successful getting the ball in the right corner and setting up her teammates on crosses. She also has the speed needed to get into one-on-one situations with goalkeepers, which serves her well when setting up the Huskies’ attack.

In just two years with NIU, Gobbo is already tied with Denise Papke for 10th in all-time goals scored with 10. That scoring prowess combined with her experience is why head coach John Ross has high expectations for Gobbo and the younger forwards beside her.

“I want her to definitely lead that group because she’s got a lot of experience,” Ross said. “She’s scored some goals here, and we need her to get going on the scoreboard, as well. But, really, she needs to lead by example with the type of runs, the type of defending that she has and then from there the other forwards can follow it.”

Gobbo is taking those expectations seriously, especially when it comes to helping the freshmen adjust to the college game.

“I remember when I was a freshman, just looking up to the girls my age now, and now I feel like I have to be out there and help them out more,” Gobbo said. “I only have two years left; I’m working extra hard.”

Gobbo, who scored six goals for the Huskies last season, has a good start on surpassing that number. Through the first seven games, her shot has found the back of the net twice. With 12 games remaining, she’s no longer hoping to just top last season’s goal total but to also help a teammate get there.

“… I just want our team to get wins,” Gobbo said. “If I’m contributing, that’s all I care about, and if we’re playing well as a team, I’m happy.

“I’m hoping to start assisting more and scoring more. But just having someone spark the offense or just pressure the ball more … will help the team out.”

With the potential explosive offense on display Friday, freshman Sammy O’Brien said it’s only the beginning for this crop of forwards with Gobbo at the lead.

“I think she’s a great player,” O’Brien said. “She’s really good at getting after it and attacking the ball. I think, overall, we are pretty similar in how we play, so I like playing with her a lot. I think over the next year or two together we’ll improve greatly together.”