The Northern Illinois University women’s soccer team notched its first victory of the season Friday night, defeating the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 1-0 at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
A first-half goal from the penalty spot by senior midfielder Allie McBride (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) was enough to see the Huskies (1-4) prevail over UNO (1-3) in their home opener on a rainy night in DeKalb.
NIU head coach John Ross was pleased with the victory and credited the Huskies’ hard work in practice for earning a hard-fought victory.
“I’m really happy for our kids. They’ve been working really hard since preseason, so to get the result here was great and all of their hard work has paid off,” Ross said. “We have to keep that same mentality going forward: hard work will get it done.”
The Huskies survived a scare in the first minute when a loose ball in their box almost led to an easy Maverick goal, but they soon took control of the match.
With junior forward Nicole Gobbo (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) making way on the right wing and creating several chances, NIU pinned UNO in their own half for much of the first period.
The pressure finally paid off when freshman forward Sammy O’Brien (Aurora, Ill./West Aurora) made a lengthy run down the left channel that culminated in a Maverick defender pushing her over, giving the Huskies their first penalty kick of the season. McBride calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner of the net for her first goal of the season and the fifth of her career.
“It feels really good,” McBride said after the game. “We knew that if we came together as a team that we could win these kinds of game, so we’re all really happy with the performance and the victory.”
That goal proved to be enough for NIU as the Mavericks rarely threatened to equalize in a game of few scoring chances.
However, NIU freshman goalkeeper Amy Annala (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) was required to make five total saves, with her best stop coming in the 88th minute to preserve the Huskie victory and her first career shutout.
“It’s great to get my first shutout, but the most important thing was that we won the game,” Annala said. “Now we’re all focused on building on this and improving going forward.”
The Huskies return to action at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, when they face Chicago State in Naperville at the Nike Sports Complex.
“We have a couple kids from that Naperville area, so it will be nice for them to play close to their friends and family,” Ross said. “We want to engage the west Chicago suburbs community and believe we’ll have great support on Friday.”
For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.