NORMAL, Ill. — The Panthers took their first victory in three weeks on Thursday night in a 3-0 win over the Illinois State Redbirds.
On its first trip of the season, UNI football claimed its first win of the year in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The Panthers scored the attack behind the junior forward Ashley Harrington on Thursday, when she took three points in the win. Goalkeeper Caitlin Richards also recorded his third shutout performance of the season against the Redbirds.
UNI took the lead in the first half of the match and remained on top for 64 minutes. The Panthers scored their first goal of the game thanks to a poorly played ball by Illinois State goalie Audrey Brown. Brown tried to pass the ball to a Redbird player on the right side of the field, but the midfielder Olivia Knoepfle managed to get there first. Knopefle’s pass to Harrington in front of the goal area marked Harrington’s first goal of the season, which passed Brown in the left corner.
The next opportunity for North Iowa would come early in the second half of the game. Harrington would corner the ball on the offensive end of the field for the Panthers after a Richards goal kick. Harrington quickly passed the ball to the forward Lauren Heinsch on the left side of the field that had the space and time to enter the Redbirds’ network. Heinsch found the back of the net with a right-footed shot from the corner of the goal area, making the 2-0 UNI.
Less than a minute later, the rookie midfielder Caroline Hazen caught the ball from a missed Brown dive to dunk the Panthers’ third goal of the night. Hazen’s left foot kick gave the freshman the second goal of her college career.
UNI would fight five more Illinois State shots in the second half to clinch the shutout victory. In addition to playing hard on offense, the Panthers were aggressive on defense, earning two yellow cards during the later part of the game.
With three points and six shooting, Harrington led the charge against the Redbirds. Only Hazen would come close to that three-shot total on the night, while Heinsch also had a multi-shot night with two. Three other Panthers would score a pitch in the game 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 showdown against Missouri State this weekend. The kick-off against the Bears is scheduled for 1 pm on Sunday, September 25.