SMSU SOCCER: Emily Huddleston feels right at home in a Mustang uniform

Emily Huddleston handles the ball during a game against Minot State on Oct. 3.

MARSHALL – When Emily Huddleston made her visit to Southwest Minnesota State University she immediately knew it’s where she was meant to be. The Trenton, Mich., native has felt right at home during her first three years as a Mustang.

“When I came on my visit I really just loved the family culture of everything,” Huddleston said. “Everyone was really close on the team. I really just enjoyed that. It was my first visit and it made my choice really easy because I loved the place. I loved the campus and I loved the coach. I didn’t want to see anywhere else.”

Huddleston was a three-year letter winner at Ladywood High School. She finished her career with 24 goals and was the team captain during her senior season.

“I really don’t know what got me into the sport,” Huddleston said. “My sister always played volleyball. I tried volleyball. I tried gymnastics and skating. The game of soccer just stuck with me. Apparently I like to run all the time.”

That nonstop running is a big reason why Huddleston loves the game of soccer.

“I like how you are literally running and staying active the entire game,” Huddleston said. “You don’t really get a rest on the field. I can’t just stand around. In other sports you can be standing around and waiting. In soccer you always have to be on your feet and on your toes, even if you don’t have the ball. I just like being active all the time.”

During Huddleston’s freshman year the Mustangs finished with a 10-8-1 record. Huddleston started five games and appeared in all 19 games.

The following year the Mustangs went 8-9-2 during Erin Kasmarik-Mallett’s first year as head coach. Huddleston started 18 games and appeared in all 19 games. She finished the season with two goals and two assists.

Last year the Mustangs went 6-11-1 and Huddleston earned All-NSIC third team. She started all 18 games and led the team with seven goals.

Huddleston said her first three year’s at SMSU have been filled with plenty of ups and downs, but wouldn’t change anything.

“It was a little different with the changing of the coaches,” Huddleston said. “You had to transition into the way she wanted to do things. The team has been through all sorts of ups and downs. I’ve still always loved this place and I always will no matter how we do in the season. The first three years here have been great. I don’t regret any of my decisions to come here.”

Huddleston will be one of four seniors on the team this year. Huddleston said she plans to take on more of a leadership role this year.

“I’m taking on a leadership role this year,” Huddleston said. “As a midfielder I’m in the middle of everything. I’m really focusing on helping the younger players and passing on my knowledge of the game.”

The Mustangs haven’t had a winning season since Huddleston’s freshman year. They are hoping to break that streak this year. In order for that to happen Huddleston said they need to be more consistent.

“Our goal this year is to be more consistent,” she said. “We all need to be on the same page for the entire season. We just want to push each other and keep each other motivated. It’s really easy to get down when things don’t go our way. I think we need to focus on pushing each other a little harder and not getting down on ourselves.”