Aug. 18, 2009
Dekalb, Ill.- -
One thing is clear as the Northern Illinois women's soccer team begins its 2009 season: It is the strength of the team as whole that will lead the Huskies to success on the field this season.
"The core of our team comes from the unity we have and that chemistry is why we are strong," head coach Carrie Barker said. "As a team we are especially unique because we are very powerful and strong as a group, and I think that is where our success this season will come from."
Barker is in her second year as head coach of the Northern Illinois women's soccer team. She began her career with the Huskies in 2008 by leading the team to their best start in school history with a 5-1-3 record.
"As we head into the season, I believe our leadership class will help mold the younger girls into what we're trying to do as a program both in the present and the future," said Barker. "We have a great leadership class that will help us be very successful on the field this season."
As the Huskies begin their 2009 campaign, they will look to the leadership of their 20 returning players to guide them to success this season.
Senior veteran Lindsey Curnock will return as goalkeeper after recording 75 saves and a .789 save percentage in the 2008 season. Joining Curnock as goalkeeper are fellow veterans junior Audrey Holmer and sophomore Meaghan Bennett.
On the defensive end, six returning Huskies will join seven incoming defensive players on the field this season. Junior Mo Smunt in 2008, started in all 20 games, while senior Micaela Damas, and junior Christen Schuler, who started in a combined 37 games, will lead the Huskie defense this season.
Leading NIU in the midfield are seniors Lisa Maier
and Kelly Mullany
, along with junior Becca Ford
. Maier, Mullany and Ford each started all 20 games last season, with Ford heading the team as the leading returning goal-scorer.
Eleven players will return as forwards this season. Experienced veterans include Maier, Ford and senior Sara McClard, juniors Kaitlin Bujak, Kim Schmitt, Jamie Sitter, Cara Stutler and Annie Wyer and sophomores Caitlin Eucker, Danielle Janowiak, and Kelsey Passaglia.
Monday's 1-0 exhibition win against Northwestern marked the first of 12 games away from home this season. After beginning the season on the road for six-straight, the Huskies will return home Sept. 13 to play Loyola Chicago in their first of seven-consecutive contests at the NIU Soccer and Track and Field Complex.
Mid-American Conference play will begin at home on Sept. 25 when the Huskies take on Bowling Green. NIU will alternate between home and away games for the rest of the season, facing Toledo (Sept. 27), Ohio (Oct.2) and Akron (Oct. 4) at home, before traveling to Kent State (Oct. 9) and Buffalo (Oct. 11).
The Huskies will host Central Michigan (Oct. 16) and Eastern Michigan (Oct. 18) in their final home games of the season. Wrapping up MAC regular-season play, Northern Illinois will travel to Ball State (Oct. 23), Miami (Oct. 25) and Western Michigan (Oct. 29).
The MAC quarterfinals begin on Nov. 1 at campus sites, before the highest remaining seed advances to the MAC semifinals and championship rounds the following week.