With temperatures in the 90s and the heat index topping triple digits in Macomb, Ill., on Sunday afternoon, the Northern Illinois University women’s soccer team was forced to battle against two opponents: the Western Illinois Leathernecks and the heat.
In a close and hard-fought match that featured several scoring chances for both teams, the Huskies (0-2) fell to the Leathernecks (1-1) by a score of 2-0.
Following an evenly played first half that finished scoreless, Sarah Hall gave Western Illinois the lead for good with the opening goal of the match in the 67th minute. About ten minutes later, Nicole Beer scored the Leathernecks’ second goal to secure their victory.
After the game, NIU head coach John Ross said he was disappointed in the result but proud of his team for fighting through the difficult conditions.
“I thought we did really well in the first half,” Ross said, “but it was tough to keep up those energy levels in the second half. Soccer is incredibly difficult to play in this kind of heat and humidity; even connecting simple passes together becomes a challenge. But we did our best considering the conditions.”
Ross said he was very impressed with the energy and application of Huskie central defenders Jess Wooldridge (Center Point, Iowa/Center Point-Urbana) and Natalia Peña (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates).
“I thought Natalia and Jess were fantastic at the back for us today,” Ross said. “Wooldridge played 90 minutes and Natalia almost played the entire game, and they worked well together to deal with most of the attacks that came at them.”
“Moving forward, we’ll watch the tape from this weekend, evaluate our play and make the necessary adjustments,” Ross added. “We need to recover after a tough weekend and put in better performances going forward, and I’m confident we will do that.”
The Huskies depart for the Hawaiian Islands on Wednesday for two matches in Honolulu: a Thursday night match against Hawai’i and a Saturday night showdown with Seattle. Both games begin at midnight Central Time.
For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.