The Northern Illinois women’s soccer team made a spectacular come from behind effort in the final 21 minutes of its match with Toledo match, trailing, 1-0.
Junior Kayra Thompson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley Northwest) tied the match in the 69th minute and freshman Nicole Gobbo (Bartlett) scored the game-winner to lift the Huskies over the Rockets, 2-1.
The win cements NIU into the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals as the No. 7 seed, where it will meet Central Michigan this weekend.
“This is what we expected at the beginning of the season,” said a jovial John Ross after the match on qualifying for the MAC postseason. “We’re very excited to have reached the MAC Tournament this year and the girls worked extremely hard to get here. The heart that they played with today was unbelievable. We had a chance to pack it up and close the season today but they fought hard and made a great comeback.”
Toledo jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute of play with a goal by midfielder Meghan Toplewski, her first of the season. The Rockets (7-11-1, 5-5-1 MAC) held a 4-2 shot advantage over the Huskies (8-8-2, 4-5-2 MAC) in the opening stanza with their goal the only shot on frame.
As time began to dwindle in the match, Northern Illinois still found itself in a hole, and Ross called on his back line players to move forward in the attack to help equalize the match.
Thompson, who came off the NIU bench with illness, advanced the ball forward, following a slotted pass from junior centre back Courtney Ksiazek (Naperville/Neuqua Valley) and tied the match in the 69th minute, 1-1.
“Kayra really took over the game late,” Ross said. “She was feeling under the weather, but she really changed our attitude in the game with her fight and determination on the field. Once she started going after the ball and making tackles, the team started to follow suit. She did great to get that goal.”
Seven minutes later in the contest, Gobbo made a fantastic individual effort to separate NIU from Toledo and win the contest in the 77th minute, 2-1. It was Gobbo’s second goal of the season and her first game winner of her career.
Goalkeeper Amy Carr (Hemel Hempstead, England/Townsend Church of England) played a vital role at the end of the match as she made two saves in the final 14 minutes of play to keep the Huskies on top of the Rockets. Carr’s first save of the game came after a shot by Rio James in the eighth minute that Carr parried past the end line for a Toledo corner kick that the Huskies cleared away less than a minute later.
The Huskies will return to action Sunday, Oct. 28, at Central Michigan for a quarterfinal round match in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Match time is slated for 11 a.m. CT.
For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.