The Northern Illinois University women’s soccer team remained unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference, earning a come-from-behind 1-1 tie against Kent State on a cold, windy and rainy Friday night at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
Sophomore midfielder Haley Cummings (Spring, Texas/Home School) scored the tying goal for the Huskies (4-6-1, 2-0-1 MAC) in the 74th minute, firing a 25-yard rocket into the top right corner of the net. Cummings also scored the equalizing goal in NIU’s last game, a 2-1 overtime win at Toledo.
“It felt great to score the tying goal, especially doing it for the second consecutive game,” Cummings said. “But it was really a team effort to get the ball in that position for me to take the shot.”
NIU head coach John Ross was pleased with the result, which means four of the seven points NIU has in the MAC standings were won in comeback fashion.
“I thought our kids fought extremely hard again today,” Ross said after the game. “They willed their way back into the game. Kent State is a good team, and they had some chances as well. The final score is probably a fair result for the match.”
The first half of the match had very limited scoring opportunities, but the Golden Flashes (6-3-2, 1-1-1 MAC) took advantage of the only true chance of the first 45 minutes when Jenna Hellstrom scored in the 38th minute after a flicked-on free kick found her in the box.
As the game opened up in the second half with NIU searching for the tying goal, shots and chances became more frequent.
Reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Week Amy Annala (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) had to be sharp to keep out a few Kent State chances before Cummings dramatically leveled the score with her incredible strike out of nothing.
With momentum, NIU pushed for a winning goal at the end of the regulation but was instead forced to play a third consecutive overtime game in league action for the first time in school history.
Annala then made half of her total saves in overtime, including an incredible pair of saves at the end of the first extra period that kept NIU alive. She finished with six stops.
The Huskies hope to maintain their unbeaten start in MAC play Sunday afternoon when they host Ohio. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex. Admission is free for all fans. For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.