Head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s soccer team is pleased to introduce a 2020 recruiting class made up of five promising prospects on Tuesday, June 23.
With three players from Saskatchewan as well as one each from British Columbia and Alberta, Barandica-Hamilton continues to build a women’s soccer program that is stacked with local talent alongside high-end players from across Western Canada.
“We are excited to officially unveil our 2020 recruits,” said Barandica-Hamilton. “They all possess an eagerness and willingness to learn as well as challenge each other. Most importantly, they all will fit from a personality standpoint into the culture of success that we are building here in our Huskie Program.”
Joining from out of province are a pair of exciting young fullbacks in Nicole Burnett from Victoria and Madi Epoch from Calgary. Both fit the attack-minded style that Barandica-Hamilton wants from his wide defensive players, a style that won Halle Krynowsky the accolades of member of the Canada West All-Rookie team and the Huskies’ Female Rookie of the Year award last season.
Burnett was captain of her Vancouver Island Wave team which plays in the highly-competitive BC Premier Soccer League last season while Epoch, cousin to women’s basketball star Libby Epoch, is a graduate of the same Calgary Blizzard program that Krynowsky came from.
Another incoming player with familial ties to the program is Taryn Izsak from Prince Albert. The athletic centre back will line up on the opposite end of the field from her sister Payton, an attacking midfielder / forward who was the 2018-19 Huskies’ Female Rooke of the Year.
Rounding out the recruits are a pair of players from Saskatoon. With 22 athletes on last year’s roster hailing from the Bridge City, the program has thrived in recent years thanks to an influx of talented local players.
Marie Kilcher, an attacking midfielder who attended Evan Hardy Collegiate and Emily Little, a forward out of Centennial Collegiate, both excel in attack an area in which the team has flourished as of late. Kilcher brings experience from the Saskatchewan REX program while Little has been a member of the Junior Huskies for the past two seasons.
These players join a squad that has made it to the conference quarter-final stage for the past eight seasons in a row, including a run last year that saw the team finish second in the Prairie Division with an 8-2-4 record.
“Our recruits will bring an immediate desire to contribute as they are coming from high quality programs and have shown already a great familiarity with our program’s culture of success,” said Barandica-Hamilton. “They are all exceptional student-athletes, and are genuinely great people to work with. We look forward to watching their growth as players and people in the years to come.”
2020 RECRUITING CLASS
Nicole Burnett, Defender
City: Victoria, B.C.
High School: Glenlyon Norfolk School
Previous Club Team: Vancouver Island Wave
• 2018-19 captain of BCSPL Vancouver Island Wave
• 2018 ‘A’ soccer Provincial Champion
• 2017 SX Cup bronze medal
• 2016 CAIS Girls Soccer MVP (Glenlyon Norfolk Athletics)
• 2019 Senior Basketball MVP (Glenlyon Norfolk Athletics)
• 2-time Esquimalt Fire Basketball Tournament All-Star
Why did you choose USask?: I chose USask because of the consistent achievements and the welcoming atmosphere of the women’s soccer program. I’m very excited to further develop as both a person and a player. Having always sought challenge, the opportunity at USask to take my game to the next level seemed like a perfect fit.
Interesting fact about yourself?: An interesting fact about me is that I’ve broken both of my wrists playing soccer. Some would say that this represents my competitive nature and my willingness to not go down without a fight!
Nicole is a player we feel has a lot of potential to grow into an attacking fullback that suits our playing philosophy. She possesses some key attributes in her speed and her technical ability to distribute out of the back. Beyond that, she is a great person with a high level of determination and academic drive which is something we highly value within our program.
Madi Epoch, Defender
City: Calgary, Alta.
High School: Bowness High School
Previous Club: Blizzard SC
Why did you choose USask?: I chose USask because of the amazing community of people at the school. USask felt like a home away from home as I have lots of family in Saskatchewan and my cousin Libby goes to U of S!
Who is one of your role models and why?: My cousin Libby Epoch. She has always been an extremely hard worker, in athletics and through school. I look up to her drive and determination – she is also one of the reasons I came to U of S.
We look forward to having Madi join our 2020 squad. She comes from a well-established and highly respected Calgary Blizzard Club which is the same program that current Huskie Halle Krynowsky graduated from. She is a very determined and hardworking player with some of the key attributes we look for in our fullbacks. She has great familiarity with both our program and USask as her cousin (Libby Epoch) plays for the women’s basketball team and we know she will bring a high level of competition to our team.
Taryn Izsak, Defender
City: Prince Albert, Sask.
High School: Carlton Comprehensive High School
Previous Club Team: Junior Huskies
- Provincial volleyball champion
- Team captain – club volleyball
- Team captain – Lakewood Soccer
Why did you choose USask?: I chose USask because it’s the best fit for me. They offer lots of great programs, and have an environment that is very welcoming.
What are most looking forward to about joining the Huskies?: I’m looking forward to continuing the competitive aspect of soccer and being able to connect with people in a different environment. As well as creating more memories that will last a life time.
As a coaching staff we are very pleased and excited to have Taryn join her sister Payton on our Huskie women’s team. We know she will bring a great competitive mindset, a humble and hard-working personality and a high level of athleticism as she is a true multi-sport athlete having competed in soccer, basketball and volleyball in high school. We are excited to see her grow as a centre back and make our defensive unit more versatile for years to come.
Marie Kilcher, Midfielder
City: Saskatoon, Sask.
High School: Evan Hardy Collegiate
Previous Club: Saskatchewan REX
• Rookie of the Year – high school soccer
Why did you choose USask?: I knew I wanted to stay home with my family, also the soccer at USask is very high level and it’s a team I’ve wanted to be a part of since I was young.
Who is one of your role models and why?: Claire Abrey (midfielder from Saskatoon who plays NCAA Div. 1 soccer for the University of Memphis). Since I joined the REX program, she always was someone I looked up to because we both played midfield and I’ve never seen someone work so hard in my life.
Marie is a player we are extremely excited to have on our roster as we feel that her instinctual attacking abilities will suit our playing style extremely well. She comes from a highly regarded local REX program and we know that her ability to dribble at players and create opportunities in the attacking third of the field will enhance our scoring abilities and provide variety in how we attack. We know that with the current players we have, she will be able to fit in quickly and bring a high level of competition to continue to elevate our program to new heights of success.
Emily Little, Forward
City: Saskatoon, SK
High School: Centennial Collegiate High School
Previous Club Team: Junior Huskies
- 2016-2019 Honour Roll
- 2017 – Bronze Medallion and cross completion
- 2017 – U15 girls golden boot
- 2017 – U16 girls indoor MVP
- 2017 – U16 girls outdoor MVP
- 2018 – Silver in high school provincials
Why did you choose USask?: I chose to attend USask to continue my years of development and learning close to home. I admire the team’s competitiveness and work ethic, and can see strong chemistry amongst the players. This has inspired me to play at the next level and continue to grow as a person and a player. I’m grateful for such an opportunity to be part of the Huskie family and hope to have a positive contribution in the years to come.
Who is one of your role models and why?: My Dad has been my coach, teacher and mentor for my whole life and has taught me all the personal qualities of a successful player and person. Without his persistence and support, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish and achieve all the challenges I’ve faced. Every waking moment has been a lesson put toward bettering my future.
Emily is a player that we have been able to work with over the last two years within our Jr. Huskies Program. We are very excited to have her join our program as she will bring another dimension and versatility to our attack. We envision her being a great target striker as one of her key attributes is her physicality to hold up the ball and keep us in possession as a single target. We look forward to seeing her grow and become an important player for our program in the years to come