Aug. 3, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - The on-line publication College Soccer News placed Northern Illinois' men's soccer recruiting class among the top-40 in the nation.
The nine-member group earned the 38th slot in CSN's annual recruiting wrap-up, third-best among Mid-American Conference teams.
"To have a top-40 ranked recruiting class is a reflection of the work the current team has done over the past few years," NIU head coach Steve Simmons said. "It's also a reflection of our coaching staff continuing to dig for the right student-athletes to fulfill our mission."
That student-athlete fit is one thing the article complimented.
According to the story, "Simmons has again shown that he has a good eye for identifying the type of player that will enable his program to progress and for building the pipelines needed to land that talent."
CSN acknowledged that program progression earlier this week. The publication ranked NIU 26th in its preseason top-30 poll, citing the return of eight starters, including MAC Newcomer of the Year Marcus McCarty, as one reason "the Huskies are a team to watch."
Even with a team that returns eight starters and 17 letterwinners from a MAC Championship troupe, Simmons expects the newcomers to push for playing time right away.
"The greatest contribution is that these new players are good enough to challenge for spots," he said. "I look forward to day-to-day difficult decisions about who to play on this team."
With four returning all-conference players, the Huskies expect to compete for the MAC Championship. To do so, NIU will have to contend with two MAC schools who's classes were ranked higher than the Huskies': Akron (fifth) and Mid-American Conference newcomer Hartwick (23rd).
"The goal is to have more than one bid to the NCAA Tournament, and that can happen if the teams in the MAC continue to step-up the recruiting and play quality teams," Simmons said.
The Huskies will face their share of high-caliber opposition in 2007, with match-ups against three teams ranked in CSN's pre-season poll: Notre Dame (No. 11, Sep. 9 at South Bend, Ind.), Northwestern (No. 20, Oct. 24 at DeKalb) and Indiana (No. 8, Sep. 7 at South Bend).
Northern Illinois opens the season with exhibition play versus DePaul, Aug. 18 in DeKalb. The Huskies will kick-off the regular season against Bucknell, Aug. 31 at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic in Evanston, Ill.