Huskies end Ohio road battle in 1-1 deadlock

Freshman nets first college goal in NIU’s third tie of 2022


Alyssa Queen

NIU freshman forward Amber Best pushes the ball downfield in a game between NIU and CMU. (Alyssa Queen | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Freshman forward Amber Best’s first career goal allowed NIU women’s soccer to escape the Ohio University Bobcats with a 1-1 stalemate on Thursday.

The Huskies (5-4-3, 2-2-1 MAC) earned their first road stalemate of 2022 in a road battle against Ohio (6-4-2, 2-2-1 MAC).

Bobcats test NIU defense early

Ohio was extremely aggressive right out of the gate, recording seven shots on goal on seven shots total in the first half. The Bobcats looked to push the pace often and catch the Huskie defense off-guard.

The Huskies were able to hold strong in the first half, not allowing any goals. The defense was led by senior goalkeeper Sadie McGill as she recorded six saves to keep the game scoreless to end the half.

“We defended very well,” head coach Michael O’Neill said. “Sadie was brilliant, our midfielders Aubrey (Robertson) and (Abby) Zipse were brilliant. It was a great defensive display from a tactical standpoint.”

Although the defense held their own, the Huskie offense was nonexistent to start the game. Best recorded one shot on goal. This was the only shot on goal for NIU in the first half.

The stalemate continued for the first 30 minutes of the second half until Ohio senior forward/defender Regan Berg scored the Bobcats’ first goal in the 61st minute. McGill saved an initial shot by the Bobcats, but Berg was able to rebound quickly and score.

O’Neill said players remained focused despite the Bobcats’ goal.

“I think some of the other games that we’ve lost, we’ve lost a bit of focus,” O’Neill said. “We showed some growth from the previous games we’ve played this year.”

Huskies pick up momentum

Best scored the Huskies’ first goal in the 64th minute, immediately after receiving a yellow card. Best rallied NIU to match the Bobcats’ first-half aggression and tied the game at 1-1.

“I just knew I had to help the team score,” Best said. “I kind of used the anger I got from the yellow card and took it out on my shot, and thankfully it went in.”

Both teams made strong attempts to score the tiebreaker. McGill made a clutch diving save in the 82nd minute, tallying her 10th save of the day. Junior midfielder Jamie Ward led the Huskies down the field on the final fast break of the game, but the Huskies ultimately did not score.

The match finished with both teams locking in on the defensive end, ending the game in a 1-1 draw.  Although the Huskies did not come out with a victory, they tied a team ranked No. 1 in the preseason Mid-American Conference rankings.

What’s next

The Huskies’ next match will be against the University of Akron at 1 p.m. Sunday at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex in DeKalb. The game will be streamed on NIU All-Access. Live statistics can be accessed on SIDEARM Sports. The game is free to attend.