Carlsen era to begin soon

By Joren Apiquian

Women’s Basketball is ready for a new and improved season as it welcomes new head coach Lisa Carlsen.

Carlsen signed with NIU in late June this year after having an impressive run in her eight seasons at Lewis University. Her accolades include an appearance in the Elite Eight tournament and a 23-game winning streak during her last season with the Flyers, a year that ended with a 31-3 record.

The new coach has replaced former head coach Kathi Bennett who resigned from the position last spring. Bennett had a record of 57-93 and took the Huskies to the MAC tournament in all of her seasons at NIU.

Carlsen has big expectations for the team as she prepares for her first season, which begins Saturday. Her ambition to coach at a prestigious spot and location makes her strive for improvement shine even brighter.

“The opportunity to coach at the top level is obviously very intriguing,” Carlsen said. “I also think NIU is in a position where they have things in place where it’s time for the program to really take the next step in their progression and get back to MAC contention on a consistent basis.”

The team morale and chemistry have risen substantially thanks to Carlsen although the season has yet to begin. Her optimistic outlook in shaping the team into one impressive cohesive unit has left an impact on her players and coaching staff as well. The team began practicing a bit over a month ago.

The Huskies haven’t finished at .500 since the 2008-09 season when they went 15-15, and haven’t had a winning season since 2006 when they went 19-12. They finished third in the MAC West, geting eliminated by Ball State in the tournament that year.

Redshirt senior guard Natecia Augusta is coming off of an ACL surgery on her right knee. She said she believes Carlsen will be bringing the Huskies in a positive direction going forward.

“This season, I really want to rely on staying in shape, working on my post defense and getting a lot of wins,” Augusta said. “We’re a smaller team in the conference, and we’ll have to compete with the physicality and experience from other teams in the MAC.”

True freshman guard MiKayla Voigt intends to make an immediate impact for the Huskies after winning four conference championships and going 14 wins and zero losses in her last high school season at Kettle Moraine Lutheran in Jackson, Wis.

“I have a lot of that youthful energy coming in to bring to the team,” Voigt said. “Mental toughness is a big thing we focus on as freshmen. We build a lot of team chemistry off of the court. The more fun things we do like dressing up for practice during Halloween will build a lot of chemistry that will help the team.”

Carlsen and her team seems determined with a new attitude and mindset, and they have a chance to be a top contender in the MAC conference. Carlsen said she longs to make an instant impression and continue her impressive run.

The Huskies will start their new regime against St. Francis at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center.