Offense finds their stride in women’s soccer

By Ed Rietveld

One area of the game that has been key early on in the season to help NIU’s women’s soccer team get off to a 4-4-1, 0-1-1 start has been the offense.

Through nine games the Huskies have already scored 10 goals this season, which surpasses their season total from a season ago of only seven.

NIU is also taking more shots than they did a season ago. In 2011 the Huskies averaged 11 shots per game in their 19 matches a season ago. This year the Huskies are averaging 13 shots per contest.

Senior mid-fielder/forward Shelbi Johnson said team chemistry is the biggest reason for the turnaround.

“I would have to say, how well we gel as a team,” Johnson said. “Because when we can do that off the field and do patterns on the field that our coaches are showing us, they stick together and so the forwards are able to work much better together. There have been multiple scores this year, so far, and it’s all coming through the fact that we are so comfortable on the field with each other that we can find them no matter where they are for good opportunity on goal.”

Women’s soccer head coach John Ross said he is not surprised it took his team such a short time to adjust to his system.

“They’re a talented group,” Ross said. “When I got in here I recognized the talent and we’ve been taking little steps each week ever since I got here. And they’ve been able to handle everything I’ve given them up to this point. So, when we go over new things I actually expect them to be able to pick it up and put it out on the field with them as well.”

Seven of the Huskies goals have come in just two matches, a 3-0 win against Loyola and a 4-1 win over South Dakota.

Johnson said there a few things the team has to do to make sure those kinds of efforts happen on a more consistent basis.

“We need to come out with the same intensity we have been,” Johnson said. “Every game we know that it’s a new game and whatever happened in the past is in the past, and whatever’s going to happen in the future is the future, and that we need to focus on the game that’s at our present time, and we need to come with the intensity for the whole 90 minutes.