Women’s soccer faces tough weekend road trip against UWM and ISU

Bradley Piros, Sports Editor

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After a two-game home stand for the Western Illinois University women’s soccer team, they fall to 2-2-1 on the season. The team beat the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames 2-1 with a brace from sophomore forward Amy Andrews, but fell to the Northern Illinois University Huskies 1-0 handing the Leathernecks their first home loss.

It was a tough loss for Western, best described by assistant coach Josee Primeau:

“Northern Illinois came out ready to play today; we started out a little flat but eventually got back into the game,” Primeau said in an interview with WIU Athletics Communications. “Unfortunately for us, they were the better team today. We can certainly learn from today and try to improve for our next match against Milwaukee next week.”

In the loss to NIU, Andrews led the team with four shots (three SOG) followed by senior forward Emily Bollman with three and sophomore defender Zoe Clarke with three as well (two SOG). Also, senior goalkeeper Ines Palmiero became just the fifth Leatherneck to reach the 200 career save mark with four on the day.

With a bad break to end the home stand, the Leathernecks now have to go back on the road to take on two of their toughest opponents yet: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Illinois State University.

Last season, the Leathernecks lost to the UWM Panthers 3-1 at home, with the lone goal scored by Bollman coming in the first half to quickly tie the game at 1-1. Junior midfielder Lauryn Peters picked up a shot along with Clarke but two second half goals from the Panthers led to their 3-1 victory and the fourth straight loss for Western last year.

Western will have to watch out for sophomore forward Haley Johnson, who leads the team with her five goals and one assist, as well as redshirt junior Gaby Schwartz and sophomore Jelena Sever who each tallied three goals this season. UWM’s offense is lethal and Western’s defense will have a big task to shut that attack down.

When the Leathernecks are done dealing with the Panthers, they’ll head home to the great state of Illinois to take on the ISU Redbirds. Western also played them last season and lost 4-1 on the road. The Purple and Gold are faced with the difficult task of playing on the road in a pretty tough environment again this season.

The Redbirds got on the scoreboard first in the fifth minute back on Sept. 19 of last year to take the early lead. Western showed the resilience to tie the game back up seven minutes later with a goal from Clarke that was assisted by Peters. Unfortunately, ISU scored three unanswered goals to end the game at 4-1, part of a six-game losing streak for the team last year.

The Redbirds have arguably the best offense in the MAC Conference, led by senior midfielder Kate Del Fava. She’s been lighting it up so far this season with eight goals and an assist to her name in only six games played. Right along with her is senior forward Mikayla Unger with a goal and three assists. The two are a deadly duo up top and Western will undoubtedly have a hard time slowing them down.

It’s no secret that Western will be going up against two very well-rounded offenses this upcoming weekend. If the Leathernecks come out flat like they did against NIU, they’ll find themselves in a one or two goal hole early on that they might not be able to dig themselves out of.

Assistant coach Primeau is confident that the team will have their opportunities:

“We head to Milwaukee Thursday to face a very talented side that has been scoring at will as of late,” Primeau told WIU Athletic Communications. “Our girls will have to put the NIU game behind them and be very organized defensively throughout the match. If we’re defensively sound our chances in the attack will come. It’s imperative we’re clinical in the final third. The weekend doesn’t get any easier, as Sunday we travel to Normal to take on Illinois State. Another road test will be a great way to measure just how far our team has come since last year. I think we’re a much better side and I’m excited to see the girls rise to the occasion.”

The game against UWN kicks off tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and on 1 p.m. this Sunday against the Redbirds. The Leathernecks will return to Macomb and kick off a five-game home stand against the Drake University Bulldogs before starting Summit League play against Omaha on Oct. 3.

Twitter: bradjp08

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