Northern Illinois hands soccer first loss in MAC opener

Senior midfielder Samantha Maher, left, fights for the ball during the game against Oakland University on Sunday, Sept. 18 at the Soccer / Lacrosse Complex.

Head coach Peter McGahey summed up the beginning of Mid-American Conference play before he and the team embarked on their two-game road trip to begin their weekend.

“It’s the beginning of our second season,” he said.

Central Michigan went a perfect 8-0 in its “first” season, outscoring opponents 17-4. 

But the second season began with a 4-0 loss to Northern Illinois on Friday. 

It didn’t take long for the Huskies (2-4-2, 1-0 MAC) to get moving, as sophomore forward Taylor Sarver scored in the 14th minute to put NIU up 1-0.

This marked the first time CMU (8-1, 0-1 MAC) had trailed all season. It was also the first time CMU had given up a goal in the first half in 2016.

Sarver scored again seven minutes later to make it 2-0 in favor of the Huskies.

"NIU did a good job capitalizing on our errors early," said Head Coach Peter McGahey. "Our ability to respond was limited by whole the game unfolded. But overall I'm proud about how our team kept fighting. Sometimes it's just not a good night."

NIU freshman Abby Gregg put the game out of reach in the 37th minute as she scored her first goal of the season to extend the Huskies’ lead 3-0. Gregg was subbed in 12 minutes before her goal came in the first half.

At the half, the Chippewas had five shots with one being on target. The Huskies also had five shots, but all five were on goal with three of them finding the back of the net.

"(NIU) really took their opportunities well. They found (their stride) that I wish they hadn't found so fast," McGahey said. 

The second half opened and the Chippewas were able to draw a yellow card on NIU freshman defenseman Jennie Naylor. But even that didn’t slow down the Huskies’ offense, as junior midfielder Allie Ingham scored her first goal of the season five minutes after the yellow card.

The Chippewas were suddenly down by four goals. The Chippewas had only given up four goals all season heading into the match. 

Even though CMU outshot NIU 11-8, only three of those were on goal. 

"This (loss) doesn't change what we've done, it doesn't change how the season's unfolded," McGahey said. "It reveals some things we have to get better on. It certainly speaks to the quality of the MAC and the talent in our conference."

The Chippewas will look to rebound at 1 p.m. Sunday as they head to Kalamzoo for a match against Western Michigan.