Illini head coach Janet Rayfield and her staff compiled another difficult slate of competition, challenging the Orange and Blue to earn their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in her 10-year tenure.
July 21, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois Soccer head coach Janet Rayfield announced a challenging fall schedule on Thursday, including opponents from the Pac-10, Big 12 and BIG EAST in addition to the difficult 11-game Big Ten slate. A rematch with 2010 NCAA Tournament foe USC at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium, as well as home contests with 2010 postseason participants Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan highlight the upcoming season.
After opening the fall with an exhibition game at Missouri on August 12, the Illini host former staff member and current Gonzaga assistant coach Billy Barmes and the rest of the Bulldogs on August 19 before Toledo travels to Champaign on August 21. The Orange and Blue follow with consecutive road games at Ball State on August 26 and Louisville on August 28 to complete competition during the first month of the season.
The Illini host Southern California and Colorado as part of the Illini/Boilermaker Cup from Sept. 2-4, facing the Trojans on Friday, Sept. 2 and the Buffaloes on Sunday, Sept. 4. In two season, the Orange and Blue are 3-1 overall in Illini Challenge Cup action, tallying victories over Iowa State and Dayton in 2008, while topping UC Santa Barbara in 2009.
Following the Illini/Boilermaker Cup, the Orange and Blue take to the road for five consecutive contests, the longest regular season stretch away from Champaign in the program's history. Illinois begins the campaign in Baton Rouge, La., taking part in the LSU Tournament with Pepperdine and Oregon, challenging the Waves on Sept. 9 and Ducks on Sept. 11. Following the trip to LSU, the Illini begin Big Ten competition at Iowa on Sept. 18, before heading to Ohio State for a Sept. 23 contest followed by a game at Penn State to complete the road swing on Sept. 25.
Illinois continues its season against the Indiana Hoosiers on Sept. 30, playing its first home contest in 26 days in the process. Illinois concludes the back-to-back home game series by hosting Purdue on Oct. 2. After heading to East Lansing, Mich., to face Michigan State on the road for the second consecutive season, the Illini head home for two more games. The Minnesota Gophers will take to the Illinois Soccer Stadium pitch on Oct. 14 before the Orange and Blue and Wisconsin face off in Champaign on Oct. 16.
The Illini conclude the road portion of the regular season with an Oct. 20 game against in-state rival Northwestern before facing Nebraska as a Big Ten opponent for the first time on Oct. 23. Previously, Illinois earned victory in both contests with the Cornhuskers, downing Nebraska, 2-1, during NCAA Tournament competition on Nov. 20, 2004 and again the following season, 1-0, on Sept. 2, 2005. Illinois concludes the regular season with Senior Night against Michigan on Oct. 29. During the Rayfield era, the Orange and Blue are 8-1-0 overall when playing in the final regular season home game at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium.
The Big Ten conference reintroduces the women's soccer Big Ten Tournament in 2011 after a two-year hiatus, with Northwestern serving as the current host-site. The top-eight regular season finishers earn seeding in the tournament, as the quarterfinal round occurs on Nov. 2, the semifinals follow on Nov. 4 and the Big Ten Tournament Championship unfolds on Nov. 6.
The 2011 NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds take place from Nov. 11-13, while the Sweet Sixteen follows on Nov. 18-20 and the Elite Eight from Nov. 25-27. The 2011 Women's College Cup, held at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., concludes the season with the Final Four on Dec. 2 before the NCAA Championship on Dec. 4.