Women’s soccer splits weekend double-header with UIC and NIU

Amy Andrews holds off a defender on her back.


Amy Andrews holds off a defender on her back.

Bradley Piros , Sports Editor

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois women’s soccer team fell to 2-2-1 after two games since last Thursday. The team opened a two-game home stand Thursday with a 2-1 win against the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames but ended it with a 1-0 loss to the Northern Illinois University Huskies.

The game against UIC last Thursday started a little slow for both teams and it wasn’t until the 37th minute that the deadlock was broken. It was the sophomore forward out of Birmingham, England who gave the Leathernecks the lead. Senior forward Emily Bollman assisted the goal as she placed a perfectly passed ball onto the right foot of Andrews who fired it into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0.

The Leathernecks took that lead into halftime, but it was UIC who came out the other side with all the momentum. In the 72nd minute Keri Birkenhead tied things up at 1-1 as she slotted the ball past a diving Ines Palmiero Herrera.

Speaking of Palmiero Herrera, she made career save No. 192 in the win, moving her into fifth all-time in program history. She inched closer to that 200-save mark against NIU but didn’t quite reach it. She was interviewed after the game about the milestone by WIU Athletics Communications.

“I’m so proud of this group of girls, I wouldn’t be where I am without my team,” Palmiero Herrera said. “I’m going to keep working as hard as I can to keep helping the team achieve our season goals and help improve the program.”

Continuing on with the UIC game, it was far from over. It took a little over 12 minutes for the Leathernecks to regroup and find the back of the net again to take the lead. It was once again Andrews to the rescue.

She once again received a perfect pass on the run as she beat a couple of defenders and then the keeper as she rocketed the ball upper-90 for the game-winner. She celebrated the goal with a “sipping tea” celebration similar to Alex Morgan’s in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup over the summer. The video of the goal and the celebration is on the team’s Twitter account: @WIUWomensSoccer.

So, with all the momentum in the world the team took on NIU at home yesterday.

What should’ve been an easy win, turned into a bad loss. The Huskies came into the matchup with a 0-2-1 record and were coming off a tough 3-0 loss to the Illinois State University Redbirds. Everything seemed to be aligned for Western to get another win at home and stay undefeated, but that’s not really how it went.

Western started the game off well, stringing some passes together and having a majority of the possession early on, but it was NIU who had the most dangerous opportunities.

Halfway through the first, a ball was crossed in, took a deflection off an NIU forward and bounced right off the crossbar and out. Western was pretty shaken up after that and the tides turned to NIU.

The Huskies had another good opportunity to take the lead when another ball was crossed in and tipped along by a forward player. This time, the ball trickled in and went off the post. The half finished scoreless and NIU outshot Western 6-3, but the Leathernecks had two on net while the Huskies didn’t.

Around the 60-minute mark is when NIU finally converted. Julia Neary picked up her first collegiate goal as she took a shot passed the diving Palmiero Herrera and into the back of the net. The goal stood to be the game winner.

So, now Western sits at 2-2-1 and goes back on the road for two games. The road trip will begin Thursday when they travel to Milwaukee to take on the Panthers. They’ll finish the trip on Sunday against the Redbirds of ISU and return home Friday Sept. 20 to take on the Drake University Bulldogs.

The game against the Panthers kicks off at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. against ISU on Sunday. It’s a tough stretch for the Leathernecks coming up soon; let’s see if they can keep up.

Twitter: bradjp08