Rayfield Releases Challenging 2014 Schedule
May 7, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois soccer head coach Janet Rayfield announced a challenging 2014 schedule, including contests against 10 NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago. The Illini also will face three opponents that finished last season within the NCAA Top-25 rankings, including No. 6 Michigan, No. 13 Nebraska and No. 14 Notre Dame, and make trips to both new members of the Big Ten, Maryland and Rutgers, as part of a new 13-game conference slate. Illinois will travel nearly 6,000 miles round trip during the 2014 regular season (5,812 total miles).
"The 2014 schedule is challenging and exciting for both our team and our fans," Rayfield said. "The level of competition and amount of travel as we compete in a full 13-game conference schedule will be a test for our discipline and our consistency."
The Illini will begin the season with a trio of quality non-conference opponents at Illinois Soccer Stadium before hitting the road for five consecutive contests. The home and season opener will be against Notre Dame, which reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2013, on Friday, Aug. 22. Another NCAA Tournament qualifier will come to Champaign that weekend, with Illinois facing Louisville on Sunday, Aug. 24. The final weekend of August will feature a home match against Arizona State (Aug. 29) and the first road match at Oakland (Aug. 31).
"Opening the season with a home series of Notre Dame, Louisville and Arizona State will be motivation to get things put into place early and will make this preseason a very important one," Rayfield said. "Our players' summer preparation will be vital to our ability to be ready for those first three games."
Illinois will play in a tournament hosted by College of Charleston to kick off the month of September. UI will take on the host Cougars on Friday, Sept. 5, followed by a Sunday match against UAB (Sept. 7). Big Ten play will begin on the road the next week with a trip to Iowa (Sept. 11) and Nebraska (Sept. 14). The first home conference games will be against Indiana (Sept. 18) and Purdue (Sept. 21).
The Orange and Blue will then play five of the next six matches on the road before ending the regular season with three games at home. September ends with a road trip to Ohio State (Sept. 26) and Penn State (Sept. 28), while October begins with two single-play weekends at Northwestern (Oct. 5) and home against Minnesota (Oct. 12). In the middle of October, the Illini head to the east coast for matches at Rutgers (Oct. 17) and Maryland (Oct. 19).
"Our Big Ten road schedule of Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers certainly has us traveling to the corners of the conference geographically," Rayfield said. "That will be another challenge for our team to embrace."
Illinois will welcome Michigan State (Oct. 24), Michigan (Oct. 26) and Wisconsin (Oct. 31) to the Illinois Soccer Stadium to round out the regular season. Purdue will host the 2014 Big Ten Tournament from Nov. 5-9 in West Lafayette, Indiana. The 2014 NCAA Tournament will begin on Nov. 14, while the NCAA College Cup will wrap up the year at FAU Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from Dec. 5-7.