The Northern Illinois women’s soccer team will play 12 home matches at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex, including a home contest versus Wisconsin and the annual NIU Tournament, highlighting the 2011 schedule announced Monday by NIU head coach Carrie Barker.
The Huskies’ 12 home matches are the most for an NIU women’s team during Barker’s tenure, and the home-heavy slate comes a year after Northern Illinois went 7-1-1 on its home turf.
Barker, who begins her fourth season at Northern Illinois in 2011, is pleased with the schedule but cautions that no matter the site, the competition is as challenging as ever.
“We like playing at home, we’re comfortable here, and we’re excited to bring some good competition to the NIU Soccer Complex this season,” Barker said. “We have a very competitive schedule and being at home will only help.”
Northern Illinois opens 2011 with an exhibition contest at Milwaukee on August 14 before starting the regular season with one of its two non-conference road games, at Iowa State on Sunday, Aug. 21. Beginning Friday, Aug. 26, the Huskies will play seven of their next eight and nine of their next 11 matches in DeKalb.
The home slate begins with the NIU Tournament as Western Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota State come to DeKalb for four games, with the Huskies taking on South Dakota State at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, and the Fighting Sioux at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28.
Following a trip to Normal, Ill. on Friday, Sept. 2 for a 4 p.m. match-up versus Illinois State, NIU begins a stretch of five straight home matches by playing host to Northern Iowa at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4. Wisconsin visits DeKalb on Sept. 8 and, 10 days later, Loyola (Ill.) is in town for a 1 p.m. contest to close out the non-conference schedule.
In all, the Huskies will face non-conference opponents representing six different leagues as well as an independent, prior to opening Mid-American Conference play.
“Our schedule is difficult this year, more so than any year that I’ve been here,” Barker said. “We will play competition from six different conferences, and we want to represent the MAC well during the early part of the season.”
The home string concludes with the opening of Mid-American Conference play on Friday, Sept. 23 as Toledo comes to town for a 4 p.m. game. The Huskies also have home MAC weekends on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 versus Akron and Ohio, respectively, and on Oct. 14 and 16 versus Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. Those weekends are sandwiched around road trips to Buffalo and Kent State (Oct. 7-9) and Miami and Bowling Green (Oct. 21-23). NIU closes out the regular season with a home match versus Western Michigan at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.
“Every game in the MAC is a tough game and anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” Barker said. “Whether we’re playing a MAC team or a non-conference game, there are no easy wins out there, you have to go out and compete and prove it every match.”
The first round games of the MAC Tournament will be held Sunday, Oct. 30, at the sites of the highest-rated teams, while the MAC Championship semifinals and finals are scheduled for Nov. 4 and Nov. 6, respectively.
For more information on NIU women’s soccer and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.