The NIU women’s soccer team fell 2-1 to the Toledo Rockets (6-12-1, 3-7-1 MAC) on a rainy Thursday afternoon.
NIU was playing for its seed in the MAC Championship Tournament; coming into the match, the Huskies could have finished anywhere from sixth to eighth in the conference. NIU maintained its seventh seed with results of games around the MAC, which lines the team up to play Miami (Ohio) on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Much like many NIU games this season, the first half featured resistant defensive play. Both teams had some opportunities, but the opposing defenses were able to frustrate the offenses. As such, none of the scoring occurred in the first half.
Also of note is that Riley Riordan (St. Louis Park, Minn./St. Louis Park) received playing time at goalkeeper for the first time this season. During the 32nd minute, she went in and replaced Amy Carr (Hemel Hempstead, England/Townsend Church of England).
“We wanted to get Riley some playing time,” said head coach John Ross. “Amy could also use some rest. She had played the entire season for us up to that point.”
Sparks began to fly during the second half. Fans at the NIU Soccer Complex saw two incredible goals during the last 45 minutes of the game. The Rockets started it off in the 59th minute. when Kiersten Johnson took a beautiful long-range pass and caught Riordan out of position to put Toledo ahead 1-0.
The Huskies struck back in the 62nd minute when Gwen Sabo (Alton, Ill./Alton) loaded up and fired to score her first goal of her career. Sabo had the ball from just beyond midfield on the Huskie side. She fired a shot that sailed over Rocket goalkeeper Kelsey Borowitz. The goal tied the game at 1-1 with more than 27 minutes left.
Toledo wanted to end its season on a high note, and less than 10 minutes later, the Rockets put themselves in a position to do just that. Lauren Taylor scored to put her team back on top, 2-1, coming off an assist from the team leader in points, Rachel MacLeod. That mark would last until the end of the game, as the Rockets handed the Huskies their first loss at home this season.
“We noticed Toledo using some different formations throughout the game, and we mixed it up too,” Ross said. “We had some opportunities, but they didn’t work out for us.”
The Huskies end the season with a 6-10-3 record overall and a 4-5-2 mark in the MAC.
For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.