Huskies see improvements from last season, team still a work in progress

Junior defender Lauren Neslund pressure an opponent Sept. 29 during an eventual 1-0 loss to Kent State University at the Soccer and Track and Field Complex in DeKalb. 

DeKALB — Women’s soccer has reached the halfway point of the season and is midway through Mid-American Conference play. The team’s record of 2-9-1 suggests it's been a tough season, but there is more than meets the eye. The Huskies have made strides this season and sit in a better position compared to this time last season.

When Head Coach Julie Colhoff took charge of the program, she made it one of her goals to change the team’s culture. This season, Colhoff said she has been impressed with the team’s ability to adapt to new in-game tactics.

“We’ve played a couple different formations and have applied those things well from game-to-game,” Colhoff said. “Being able to make those in-game adjustments is a huge thing that we struggled with in the past that we’ve done better [with] this season, so far.”

The team has also improved statistically in many areas compared to last season. With six games left in the schedule last season, the Huskies had only one win, and a 2-17 record by the end of the season.

The Huskies scored only nine goals last season, while this season, the team has ten goals in 12 games. With six games left last season, the team gave up 39 goals at the time, while this season the Huskies have given up 25 so far.

Goalkeeping has been another major improvement. Last season the Huskies allowed 3.07 goals per game, with a save percentage of 72.8%. This season the Huskies have allowed 2.02 goals per game, with a save percentage of 77.1%. 

Junior goalkeeper Megan Donnally has improved her goalkeeping, with only 1.84 goals allowed per game, along with a save percentage of 80.3% so far, compared to 2.42 goals allowed per game and a 75% save percentage last season.  

With all the improvement from last season, the team is still struggling with its consistency. The Huskies have failed to play complete matches at times, making mistakes on both ends of the ball. Some matches the team will come out aggressive in the one half but will give up goals or fail to put shots on goal in the other half. 

“There are times when I think we are bailing teams out and giving them looks that they are not necessarily earning,” Colhoff said. “[That's] not to say there aren’t times when they’ve earned them.”

Colhoff has told her team that even with the number of shots its opponents have been putting up, its been forcing opponents to take bad shots. The team's opponents’ shots are on goal only 44.3% of the time, on 20.5 attempts per game.

With six games left on the schedule, there is still plenty of time to turn the season around. NIU has zero points in the MAC standings, but a conference win would grant the team three points. Only eight teams make the MAC Women’s Soccer Tournament, and the University of Buffalo sits in eighth place with six points.

“We have to continue to implement the details of our execution and getting everybody on the same page,” Colhoff said.

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