Scoring and offensive chances were at a premium for Northern Illinois in Sunday afternoon’s matinee versus South Dakota as the Huskies combined for four goals, three in the first 14 minutes, and 20 shots to defeat the Coyotes, 4-1.
Junior Cori Frankenberg scored her fourth game-winning goal of the season.
The Huskies closed non-conference play with a 4-3 record while USD fell to 1-6-2. The win marks the first time since 2008 (4-3-2) that NIU posted a winning record in non-conference matches. NIU opens Mid-American Conference play next Friday against Eastern Michigan and follows up with Western Michigan Sunday.
“I think the kids are getting comfortable with our system and they’re also making good decisions on and off the ball,” said head coach John Ross, “from there it really opens everything up.”
Less than two minutes into the match, the Huskies struck following a corner kick.
Emily Nulty fielded the corner kick and played the ball back to Shelbi Johnson at the corner of the box. Johnson crossed to the head of Lauren Noonan who put the ball on frame and off the shins of goalkeeper Jen Shaefer. Defender Courtney Ksiazek pounced on the loose ball in the box and fired it into the back of the net to give NIU an early 1-0 lead.
The Huskies continued to pressure from the corner but were unable to score from the chances. In the 11th minute, Frankenberg received a ball from Noonan at the wing 23-yards from goal. Taking two touches to the top of the box, Frankenberg curled the ball on her third touch toward the near post and ricocheted the ball into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Johnson fired a shot that bounced off the top of the crossbar and fell into the lap of Allie McBride who scored the first goal of her NIU career and the Huskies third of the day. Northern Illinois totaled 11 shots in the first half to South Dakota’s three.
As the defense continued to thwart the South Dakota high-percentage chances, the Coyotes worked into the box and fired a cross towards net but an NIU defender’s hand got in the way to force a penalty shot.
With silence gripping NIU Soccer Complex, Erin Bello slotted the ball into the bottom left corner from the spot, the opposite direction of Amy Carr’s dive, to give South Dakota its lone goal in the 73rd minute, 3-1.s
Northern Illinois continued to move the ball through the field and found itself in the goalkeeper’s box again. Frankenberg played a ball to McBride and dished it to freshman Kate Wirthlin who scored for her first NIU goal and the Huskies fourth and final goal. Northern Illinois had not scored four goals in a match since Sept. 18, 2009 versus Oakland.
In their previous two matches, the Huskies created many chances to score, combining for 26 shots versus Northwestern and Eastern Illinois, but were unable to finish the opportunities. NIU remedied that today with their four goals and Ross was pleased with the progress.
“It’s something we talked about at the beginning of the week during practice – the number of shots we have that actually go on goal and then the number of shots it takes to score a goal. We had those numbers today. With four goals on 20 shots and eight on goal, we scored on 25 percent of all shots and 50 percent of our shots on goal, which is pretty good.”
Due to the USD score Frankenberg’s goal was the game-winner, her fourth of the season. She entered the weekend ranked seventh in the NCAA in that category.
Northern Illinois will return to the pitch Friday afternoon in its MAC opener against Eastern Michigan. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m.