Abby Adams Nets Late Winner at Eastern Illinois

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CHARLESTON, Ill. – Abby Adams (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) scored the game-winning goal in the 81st minute to lift the Northern Illinois University women’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory at Eastern Illinois on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 4). Madison Looby (Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel Catholic Central) opened the scoring and Deighton Wamer (Oregon, Ohio/Clay) recorded seven saves as the Huskies remained unbeaten in 2022. 

“Happy with the win,” said NIU head coach Michael O’Neill. “Last weekend (two draws) was pretty frustrating so to get over the line, with a good performance and we keep that unbeaten streak into the next weekend, is great. In the first half we were really on top of the game. We had excellent chances to score, possession in good areas, we won the ball back so many times in high areas and when they did get the ball up the field, we were able to get numbers behind the ball quickly, it was just a complete performance. 

“In the second half when we scored, we sat back and (Eastern Illinois) capitalized and rightly so. Then we responded again to get the goal back.”

With the win, NIU (2-0-2) extends its longest unbeaten streak to start a season since 2008 when the Huskies opened unbeaten in their first seven matches. 

After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, it took just 41 seconds after halftime for the Huskies to open the scoring as Aubrey Robertson’s (Fishers, Ind./Fishers) cross from the left found Looby. The first shot from Saginaw, Mich. native was stopped by the Panther goalkeeper but Looby was first to react to the rebound, sliding inside the six-yard box to knock it over the line and give NIU a 1-0 lead early in the second half. 

Eastern Illinois (2-1-3) had a chance just three minutes later as Jenna Little’s shot forced a good save from Wamer. The rebound fell to a Panther who put the ball in the net but was offside. 

Following more pressure for NIU, Eastern Illinois had a chance on the counter in the 67th minute from Karima Rangel that was pushed away by Wamer for a Panther corner. From the ensuing corner, Rangel got the final touch as the ball deflected multiple time before crossing the line for a tying goal for the home side. 

The Huskies were back in the ascendency following the goal as Abby McHugh (Wauconda, Ill./Wauconda) earned a free kick about 25 yards from goal in the 73rd minute. Lea Gruennagel (Homburg, Germany/Intergrierte Gesamtschule Contwig) took the free kick and her shot was saved by Eastern Illinois goalkeeper Daniel Bermeo. 

Adams put NIU back in front in the 81st minute. Abby Zipse (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) whipped a ball into the box from the left wing and Amber Best (Southfield, Mich./Mercy) collected it and slid it into the path of Adams who was all alone to fire a shot from eight yards into the corner of the net to give the lead back to the Huskies. 

Eastern Illinois had a couple of looks at goal in the final moments but the Huskies held on for their second win of the season. 

In the first half, NIU was on the front-foot early in the contest as Kierah Meier (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) had a chance from inside the box that was saved by Bermeo in the 12th minute. 

Moments later, the Huskies had another chance to take an early lead as Claudia Muessig’s (Paw Paw, Mich./Paw Paw) shot from near the top of the 18-yard box off a corner hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced out before it was scrambled away by the Eastern Illinois defense. 

Muessig had another opportunity to open the scoring just before the half-hour mark as Looby’s cross from the left side found Best who played it into the path of Muessig. The Paw Paw, Mich. native’s shot from about eight yards was fought off by Bermeo to keep the game scoreless.

The final chance of the first half also fell to NIU in the 38th minute as Reegan Kingpavong (Rockford, Ill./Guilford) played the ball wide to Robertson whose shot was stopped by Bermeo but the ball slipped in behind the Panther goalkeeper. Best was just beaten to the rebound by a EIU defender who scrambled the ball away from the goal line to keep the match scoreless at the half. 

NIU will return home on Friday, Sept. 9, as the Huskies host Western Illinois. Game time against the Leathernecks is scheduled for 7 p.m. 


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Aubrey Robertson

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