Women’s soccer begins longest road trip of season

By James Nokes

The NIU women’s soccer team is in store for the longest road trip of the season when they travel to Kent State University Friday and University at Buffalo Sunday.

NIU (4-5-2 overall, 2-2-0 MAC) will hit the road flying high, riding a two-game winning streak that evened its MAC record at 2-2. A season-high three goals beat Ohio Friday, and on Sunday NIU won thanks to a dramatic overtime goal by Elaine Eliadis.

NIU will visit a pair of teams that have struggled in 2005. Preseason-coaches-poll favorite Kent State is 4-6-2 overall, 1-2-1 in the MAC, and Buffalo stands at 3-7-1, 1-3-0.

If NIU wants to extend the winning streak, they will need to overcome the rigors of travel, said NIU coach Marci Miller. The pair of games will be decided on two vastly different fields.

“Kent has a field that is very small- 69 by 100 – that is an extremely small field,” Miller said. “Buffalo plays on field turf and is 125 by 72. We can’t prepare for those differences, so it will be a challenge to deal with a small grass field and then jump over and play on a big turf one.”

Miller expects a physical game on the small field at Kent that will test the defense and senior goal keeper Carrie Dvorak.

“A small field creates more balls in the box,” Miller said. “When you clear a ball, it is almost in the box, you can almost throw a ball into the box. There will be a lot of clearing and heading since players are closer in and you just don’t have as much space to move around.”

Freshman Jenna Clausen received a first-time nomination for MAC Player of the Week after she posted the game winner in a 3-2 win over Ohio. Erin Fahey, Thea Johnson, Brandy Tarnowski, Maddie Lehman and Clausen are all freshmen that play heavy minutes and regularly contribute.

Miller departs on a week-long camp next week with the U.S. National team in California. Assistant Coach Paul Jobson will coach in the interim and joked that since Miller is catching a flight to California from Buffalo, she will miss out on the best part of the trip: the nine-hour bus ride home.