NORMAL, Ill. — The Panthers grabbed their first win in three weeks on Thursday evening in a 3-0 shutout of the Illinois State Redbirds.
In their first road trip of the season, UNI soccer picked up its first Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) win of the year. The Panthers dialed in the offense behind the junior forward Ashley Harrington on Thursday as she collected three points in the win. Goalkeeper Caitlin Richards also recorded her third shutout performance of the season against the Redbirds.
UNI would grab the lead in the first half of the match and stayed on top through 64 minutes. The Panthers scored their first goal of the game thanks to a misplayed ball by Illinois State’s goalkeeper Audrey Brown. Brown tried to clear the ball to a Redbird player on the right side of the field but the midfielder Olivia Knoepfle was able to get to it first. Knopefle’s pass to Harrington in front of the goal box set up Harrington’s first goal of the season that went past Brown in the left corner.
The next opportunity for Northern Iowa would come early in the second half of the game. Harrington would corral the ball on the offensive side of the field for the Panthers after a goal kick from Richards. Harrington quickly passed the ball off to the forward Lauren Heinsch on the left side of the field who had space and time to come in on the Redbirds net. Heinsch found the back of the net off a shot from her right foot at the corner of the goal box, making it 2-0 UNI.
Less than a minute later freshman midfielder Caroline Hazen grabbed the ball off a missed dive from Brown to bury the Panthers third goal of the night. The shot off Hazen’s left foot gave the freshman the second goal of her collegiate career.
UNI would fight off five more shots from Illinois State in the second half to grab the shutout win. Along with playing hard on offense, the Panthers were aggressive in defense, earning two yellow cards during the later part of the match.
With three points and six shots, Harrington led the offense against the Redbirds. Only Hazen would get close to that shot total with three on the evening while Heinsch also had a multi-shot night with two. Three other Panthers would record a shot in the match against Illinois State (Lizzie Mewes, Kennedy Riekenand Maddie Celarek). Goalkeeper Caitlin Richards made two saves in the shutout win.
UNI returns home for a midday matchup against Missouri State this weekend. Kickoff against the Bears is set for 1 pm on Sunday, Sept. 25.