Goalkeeper Amy Annala and midfielder Lauren Gierman from the Northern Illinois University women’s soccer team were named to the 2014 Mid-American Conference All-Freshman Team, the conference announced Thursday.
NIU had two MAC All-Freshman Team selections for the first time in school history as Annala and Gierman became the fifth and sixth Huskies to be recognized for the award by the MAC coaches, following Jenna Clausen (2005), Lisa Maier (2006), Lauren Eberts (2009) and current NIU defender Alex Elias (2013).
Annala (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) has started all 20 games for NIU this season, making the second-most total saves (108) among all MAC goalkeepers and posting five shutouts, including her clean sheet against Miami in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals on Sunday.
Annala’s 108 saves so far this campaign are the most by any Huskie goalkeeper since Carrie Dvorak (122 saves) in 2004. She also posted an impressive 0.93 goals-against average in 11 conference games this season.
“Any time you’re chosen by the coaches in the conference for an award, it’s an awesome feeling,” Annala said. “As a goalkeeper, this is definitely a team award because our defensive success has been the result of everyone on the team working hard and being organized every game.”
Gierman (Prospect Heights, Ill./John Hersey) leads all Huskies with nine points this season – the most by any NIU freshman since Maier (13) in 2006 – on three goals and three assists, with seven of her points coming in conference play. The freshman midfielder scored two fantastic goals at Central Michigan to lift NIU to a 2-1 overtime victory, while her two assists versus Ohio and one helper against Eastern Michigan also keyed important Huskie triumphs.
“It’s very exciting to be listed with so many good players in the MAC,” Gierman said. “But like Amy said, this is an award we couldn’t have won without the team’s effort throughout the season.”
NIU head coach John Ross also congratulated his fantastic freshmen while crediting the team with helping Annala and Gierman receive their individual awards.
“We’re all very happy for them. They’re certainly deserving,” Ross said. “It’s a great testament to their hard work throughout the season, as well as a credit to the entire team’s success this year. We expect great things from Amy and Lauren for the rest of this season and in the future.”
Annala, Gierman and the rest of the Huskies face Western Michigan in the MAC Tournament Semifinals at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT Friday at UB Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. It is the first time since 2007 that NIU has advanced to the final-four round of the conference tournament.
For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.