Huskies finish neck-and-neck with Golden Flashes


Mingda Wu

Freshman forward Madison Looby steals the ball from Kent State’s Kelsey Salopek on Sunday in DeKalb. (Mingda Wu | Northern Star)

DeKALB – The NIU women’s soccer team (5-6-4, 2-4-2 MAC) competed against Kent State University (4-6-5, 4-1-3 MAC) in an aggressive bout that ended in a 1-1 tie on Sunday.

Sunday’s game was close — the Huskies had many opportunities to take control of the game, but couldn’t capitalize with KSU’s defense keeping them in the game.

The first goal of the game was scored by KSU in the 34th minute. The goal was scored by freshman midfielder Taylor English. This goal was scored off of an offensive attack by KSU late in the first half, where English tapped the ball over senior goalkeeper Sadie McGill’s head and into the net. McGill wasn’t able to make the save as the ball grazed her fingertips before hitting the back of the net.

The remainder of the first half was tame with both teams defending the opposing team’s attacks. The half ended with the Huskies trailing KSU 1-0.

The Huskies came into the second half strong, scoring their lone goal two minutes into the second half which was scored by senior midfielder Abby McHugh. The goal came off of a corner kick that was controlled by freshman forward Amber Best, kicking it to McHugh and allowing her to easily score the goal. This was McHugh’s second goal in the last three games, both coming within minutes of the second half.

“I think I’m just gaining more confidence,” McHugh said. “We just know we can compete against anyone when we stick to our game plan. So, I think I got more confident with putting the ball in the back of the net, and I have to credit Amber (Best). She literally gave me the ball on a golden platter, and I just had to tap it.”

Moments after the goal scored by McHugh, head coach Michael O’Neill was issued his first yellow card of the season.

“Just good old fashioned British emotions coming out,” O’Neill said. “I shouldn’t have been as direct as I was but we’re trying to win games, you know? So, we live, and we learn.”

O’Neill had a problem with a missed call that he thought should have been a penalty kick.

With the season nearing its end, the Huskies sit at eighth place in the Mid-American Conference standings, after being in sixth place only a few weeks ago. There are three games remaining in the season, which will determine whether the team makes it into the MAC tournament.

“The schedule has been tough for us,” O’Neill said. “We played the top two in Buffalo and Kent, and we’ve actually been able to compete. Yes, we’ve dropped in the standings but we’re still in the mix. We have three games left and we’re going to try and win them all and then we will see where we are at the end.”

The Huskies will continue their MAC play at 4 p.m. Thursday at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex, where they will compete against Eastern Michigan University. The game can be watched live on NIU All Access and live statistics will be available on SIDEARMS Sports.