DeKALB — Mother nature was unsure whether it was Halloween or the Winter holidays when the women’s soccer team lost its last game of the season on Thursday during a snowy showdown.
Unfortunately for NIU, the team fell 2-1 to Western Michigan University, even after a late comeback attempt in the second half. NIU senior defender Lauren Neslund was content with how the team played despite the loss.
Emma Cramblett, Huskie first-year forward, scored her first collegiate goal. NIU senior defender Jennie Nailor had a point in her final collegiate game, and sophomore goalkeeper Julia Lentz posted five saves.
The Huskies came out aggressive early in the first half. The team wasn’t on the defensive too often. However, the offense was unable to put together complete attacks, only having one shot attempt to show for the entire half.
NIU’s defense was put to work toward the end of the first half. In total, WMU attempted 18 shots in the half, but the defense did well to force bad shots, and only five were on goal.
Lentz had four saves in the first half and was aggressive coming out of the box a few times to clear an oncoming ball. She had a spectacular save in the 31st minute, deflecting the ball off her out-stretched right hand, which then bounced off the crossbar.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, one shot got through coming from first-year midfielder Suzuna Shibukawa off a cross from the right side. Shibukawa came from the left side and punished the Huskies. WMU junior forward Bailey Korhorn was credited with the assist.
In the second period, the Huskies went out energized on the offensive side of the ball. They made several advances on offense early, but failed to put shots on goal.
The Broncos put the Huskies down 2-0 in the 69th minute, making a comeback for the already offensively-frustrated Huskies more difficult. Korhorn scored with WMU senior defender Grace Labadie assisting on the play.
After going down 2-0, the Huskies didn’t give up. It was cold and it was snowing; however, the team played with more urgency. The Huskies began to put together complete advances.
On one of those advances, the Huskies found the back of the net with less than 10 minutes to go. Cramblett’s goal came off an assist Nailor.
“[The coaches asked me to take the free kick] and I’m a lefty so I have a good in-swinger there and Emma finished on it,” Nailor said. “It was a great finish.”
While the Huskies finally had momentum on their side, time however was not. The team failed to attempt another shot despite a few solid runs up the field before time expired.
Overall, NIU attempted five shots, two on goal, while WMU attempted 22 shots, seven on goal.
With the loss, women’s soccer ends its season a 2-14-2, a slight improvement after the team went 2-17 in 2018. NIU finishes MAC play at 0-10-1, last in the MAC with one point.
“We definitely fell short this season in terms of what we’re capable of and what our goals were,” Head Coach Julie Colhoff said. A lot of that came with sort of the preparation we came in doing, so hopefully this squad moving forward recognizes that and double-downs on what we need to do to make sure we learn.”
Neslund and Nailor offered a few thoughts after their final match at NIU.
“I’m going to miss it,” Neslund said. “It’s crazy that it’s over, and it’s just taught me so many things, and I love NIU. Go Huskies!”
“It’s really sad to be a senior and leave on this kind of note,” Nailor said. “But, I think overall our team really learned a lot from this year, and I know that they're going to grow more next year. I can’t wait to see what they do.”
Colhoff had this to say to her seniors following the game.
“A massive thank you,” Colhoff said. “I’ve really asked a lot of them and they bought in, and have been willing to work, and so as a coach that’s something that you’re extremely grateful for. I wish them the best of luck in whatever they do in their next chapter, and I know they’ll be great because they showcased like today, they don't give up. They keep working. I’m proud to be their coach.”