Women’s soccer starts season with victory

By Sam Bauman

The women’s soccer team started its season out right with a shutout over Eastern Illinois in its home opener Sunday.

The win starts the Huskies out with a 1-0-0 record, while the Panthers fell to 0-2-0. The key in the 3-0 victory was the stellar play of the defense, which only allowed two shots all game, something that impressed head coach John Ross.

“They played very well,” Ross said. “I’m very happy with their performance. They worked hard, they played hard, and the things that we worked on all week in practice showed.”

The defense held the Panthers to one shot in the first half, while the offense had eight shots on goal. It wasn’t until the second half that the shots started to go in. Sophomore forward Nicole Gobbo started the scoring in the 51st minute. Senior forward Frances Boukidis continued the scoring at the 67th minute after she took a pass from freshman defender Margaret Rivera and broke away from the EIU defense. Finishing the scoring for the Huskies was freshman midfielder/forward Jess Wooldridge, who buried a pass from junior forward Allie McBride at the 69th minute.

The hard work and experience on defense proved to be an advantage for NIU.

“I really like how they were stepping to the ball hard, and they were aggressive when they got there,” Ross said. “That’s the biggest thing: If we can stop that we can get the numbers behind the ball. From there they’re just getting more and more experience back there, and the leadership is really stepping up.”

The Huskies began to capitalize on the opportunities created by their defense as the Panthers became more fatigued in the hot weather conditions.

“I think we just settled down a little bit,” Ross said. “We understood what we were getting, what opportunities we were getting. We were more composed in front of the goal. We were pushing the game on them as well. I think fatigue set in a little on them.”

Boukidis said the team pushed through the heat on the turf.

“It was really hot, and the turf makes it that much harder,” Boukidis said. “It shows how much hard work we put in because playing in these conditions is really difficult, so I think it’s awesome that our girls could pull through it and get the win.”

The Huskies will look to continue their success as they travel to Purdue Friday.