Sept. 10, 2008
DeKALB, Ill. - Off to the best start under a first-year coach in program history, Northern Illinois takes its 3-0-1 mark into a pair of weekend contests, beginning Friday afternoon at home against Valparaiso (4-1) at 2:30 p.m.. After a short return to the home pitch, the Huskies travel to Western Illinois (1-2) for a Sunday afternoon match beginning at 1 p.m. in Macomb.
NIU is riding a school-record 11-match unbeaten streak that dates back to October, 14, 2007, thanks in large part to an amazing 10 shutouts during that stretch. The Huskies' rank second in the Mid-American Conference in goals allowed, goals against average and shutouts thus far in 2008.
The team played consecutive double-overtime games last weekend, a first in school history, claiming a 3-2 victory at Northern Iowa and playing to a scoreless tie at Green Bay.
"We are definitely getting better with each game," said head coach Carrie Barker. "We have encountered different situations in every match and have been able to learn from those. This weekend we'll have a split weekend with a home game and a road game, so that will be different for us and both should be very competitive matches. It will be great to be back home and experience playing on our new turf again."
Senior Thea Johnson (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) continues to pace the Huskies offensively with a career-high nine points and three goals through four matches. Sophomore Becca Ford (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) has provided additional scoring punch with a pair of goals and Lisa Maier (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) ranks second on the team with two assists.
Defensively, Lindsey Curnock (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) has added to her school-record shutout total with three this season and owns a 0.46 goals against average. NIU also has received outstanding play from its defensive corps led by Kelly Mullany (Naperville, Neuqua Valley).
"We have a strong defensive unit and while shutouts are attributed to our team, all of our defenders deserve credit," said Barker. "Kelly is the leader and organizer of that group."
NIU will look to maintain a perfect all-time record against Valpo, having won all six previous meetings in the series history. However, the Huskies and Crusaders have not in over a decade, the last match coming in 1997.
The all-time series between NIU and WIU is even at 1-1-1, with the Westerwinds claiming a 1-0 victory in last season's meeting in DeKalb.