DEKALB, Ill. - Despite playing with just 10 players for 82 minutes of 108 total, the Central Michigan women’s soccer team battled for a dramatic 2-1 double-overtime comeback victory over Northern Illinois Sunday afternoon, with freshman Christen Chiesa firing the game-winning shot just 30 seconds after entering the match.
Chiesa took the field at the 106:52 mark, positioned herself on the near side of the field just outside the box and bent a shot over the head of the NIU goalkeeper and into the upper left of the frame at the 107:23 mark after receiving a pass from junior midfielder Kaely Schlosser. The goal is the second of her career.
The Chippewas (9-4-1, 5-1-0 MAC) had been playing a player down since the 26th minute when senior defender Katie Slaughter exited the match with a red card after an aggressive battle for the ball with an NIU (6-5-2, 2-2-2 MAC) player next to the CMU goal that resulted in both players running into the post.
"When you're down a player it is very difficult to throw numbers forward, and I am incredibly proud to say that we were a player down for 82 minutes, nearly the equivalent of an entire match, and we outshot a team," head coach Neil Stafford. "The fact that we generated offense in that situation shows how much character this program has. For us to stay together and fight on the way we did makes me incredibly proud."
Despite the numbers disadvantage, the Chippewas still outperformed the Huskies on offense with 19 shots, six on goal, while permitting just nine total shots and three on goal to the Huskies - none in the two overtime periods.
The Chippewas would not have been in position for their thrilling double-overtime victory over the Huskies, which maintains a share of first place in the MAC West division, were it not for senior midfielder Autumn Hawkins’ gutsy effort to tie the match in the final stages of regulation.
The ball was popped up into the box in the 74th minute and initially controlled by the Huskies, but Hawkins prevented the clearance and fought for a loose ball with a group of NIU defenders just yards in front of the goal, took control and found the far side of the net to tie the match, 1-1.
The Chippewas pushed into the box again in the 88th minute, when senior forward Laura Twidle had a shot blocked by an NIU defender after nearly finding a potential game-winning opening on goal.
Neither team attempted a shot in the first overtime, though the Huskies had opportunities with two corner kicks. The CMU defense, led by senior Bailey Brandon, also did not allow a shot in the second overtime period.
The Chippewas put themselves in a hole early with a defensive foul in the box in the 26th minute that gave NIU’s Allie McBride a penalty kick. She put the shot past a diving senior goalkeeper Stefanie Turner low to the far post for a 1-0 lead.
The Chippewas allowed just one shot to the Huskies after the penalty kick and generated a number of game-equalizing opportunities. Central took two shots on goal in the half, and another two caromed off the crossbar.
Senior midfielder Ashley Mejilla had two shots within the span of 30 seconds at the 30-minute mark, including one that went off the crossbar.
Five minutes later the Chippewas worked their way into the box and generated a look in front of the goal for Mejilla that went high over the crossbar.
The goal frame was again unkind to the Chippewas as Schlosser fired a shot from 10 yards outside the box that very nearly bent down into the upper part of the goal but instead bounced off the middle of the crossbar.
Central Michigan returns home this coming weekend at the CMU Soccer Complex for a Friday match against Akron at 4 p.m.