Two incredible goals from Northern Illinois University freshman forward Lauren Gierman propelled the Huskie women’s soccer team to victory in its Mid-American Conference opener on Friday night as NIU emerged victorious in overtime, 2-1.
“I am very pleased with the team. Everyone played unbelievably hard and stayed within the system,” NIU head coach John Ross said. “Lauren scored the type of goals we know she can, and it was huge to get three points on the road.”
NIU won in the state of Michigan for the first time since Nov. 1, 2007 – a 1-0 victory at Western Michigan. It was also snapped a 15-match winless streak on the road for NIU stretching back to a 2-1 win at Toledo on Oct. 25, 2012.
Gierman (Prospect Heights, Ill./John Hersey) gave the Huskies (3-6-0, 1-0-0 MAC) a perfect start, scoring in the 12th minute with a stunning strike into the top left corner from 25 yards out after receiving a pass from junior midfielder Emily Nulty (Omaha, Neb./Marian).
An organized NIU defense held that advantage until the 36th minute when Central Michigan (2-6-1, 0-1-0 MAC) pounced on a loose ball after a looping cross deflected right into the path of an unmarked Kaelyn Korte, who headed in the equalizer.
The entertaining and free flowing first half finished even at 1-1.
The match tightened up significantly in the second half, settling into a pattern of Central Michigan winning the possession battle while NIU looked dangerous on the counterattack.
NIU freshman goalkeeper Amy Annala (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) made two of her eight saves in the final minute of the game, forcing the first overtime game of the season for the Huskies.
Just one minute into the first extra time period, Gierman stole the ball off the Central Michigan defense and was pulled down on the edge of the box by Chippewa defender Kaylin Hoomaian, who received her second yellow card and a subsequent red card.
Gierman then stepped up to the ensuing free kick and smashed the ball into the bottom left corner, sending the NIU sideline into pandemonium as the Huskies stole a conference victory on the road.
“It felt awesome to put those goals away and help us win,” Gierman said. “It was a total team effort, and picking up this win is a big boost for us going forward.”