Huskies begin youth movement after rough 2009 campaign

By Andrew Singer


No matter what the sport, building a tradition of winning is at the top of any college coach’s to-do list.

Entering her third year as the head coach of NIU head women’s soccer, Carrie Barker continues on her quest to build a tradition at NIU. Barker looks to get the team back to where they were in 2008 when the Huskies went 9-6-5 and received a birth in the MAC Tournament. In 2009, the goals were hard to come by as NIU finished with a 5-11-3 record. It will be a young team in 2010, with 12 freshmen on the roster.

“Our freshmen give us the opportunity to build for the future,” Barker said. “We have really liked the work they’ve put in so far, and I’m excited to see them develop and progress as the year goes on.”

Since the future of the program is dependent on the development of the young blood, Barker realizes the importance of the veteran leaders on her team.

“We have a lot of juniors and seniors that have been great about showing the younger players what is going to be expected of them,” Barker said. “They have set the tone, and I can’t express how important their leadership has been to the progression of this team and program.”

Senior defender Mo Smunt made it clear that the freshmen are not the storyline on what she believes will be a competitive team.

“[The freshmen] are not really a big deal,” Smunt said. “The younger girls have been great in the preseason, and we really feel like they can help us in our goal to improve on last year.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge the Huskies will face this year will be replacing goalkeeper Lindsey Curnock. The cornerstone of the Huskies for the past four years, Curnock finished with 29 career shutouts, a MAC record.

Barker hasn’t named the successor to Curnock, opting instead to wait until the season opener to reveal her starter.

“We’re not going to give that up just yet,” Barker said. “But we have four girls right now that can do the job. It is one of the deepest positions we have, and it’s a good position to be in as a coach to choose from them.”

The Huskies kick off the 2010 campaign today at 5 p.m. against Creighton at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex. The Bluejays went 13-6-2 last year and return the goaltending tandem of Alicia Montgomery and Katie Jo Swanson that set a school record for goals against average in 2009.