Despite goals from sophomore defender Alex Elias (Phoenix, Ariz./Boulder Creek) and junior forward Nicole Gobbo (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett), the Northern Illinois women’s soccer team dropped an exciting encounter Friday night against the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, 3-2.
On a beautiful evening in the Hawaiian islands, the Huskies (0-3) took the lead – their first this season – against Hawaii (1-2) when Elias scored from senior midfielder Gwen Sabo (Alton, Ill./Alton)’s corner kick delivery in the 31st minute. It was Elias’ first goal of the season and the second of her NIU career, with the other coming against Lewis on Sept. 1, 2013.
But the Rainbow Wahine response decided the match in their favor. The hosts scored twice before halftime and once soon afterwards to turn the early deficit into the 3-1 lead by the 48th minute.
However, the Huskies didn’t give up. After Hawaii defender Lidia Battaglia received a red card for her second bookable offense left the Wahine down a player for the remainder of the match, NIU kept attacking until Gobbo scored in the 82nd minute with her first goal of the season and ninth of her career.
NIU couldn’t find an equalizer though, and Sabo was also sent off in the second half for her second yellow card, leaving both teams with 10 players to finish the match.
Freshman goalkeeper Amy Annala (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) again impressed, recording six saves to increase her three-game total for the season to 25 stops.
After the match, NIU head coach John Ross said he was pleased with his team’s effort, but he rued the 20-minute stretch around halftime when Hawaii scored three times as the deciding factor in the match.
“Our energy level was good and we had a lot of fight tonight,” Ross said. “We were able to score a couple of goals, but we need to have urgency in every moment of the match to solidify a win.”
The Huskies now have a day to rest and recover before they face the Seattle University Redhawks for the first time in school history at 7 p.m. Saturday Hawaii time – that’s midnight Sunday in Central Time – at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.