Senior Alexandra Kapicka returns in goal for Illinois after recording nine shutouts in 2008.
Aug. 12, 2009
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - The Illinois soccer team was picked to finish third in the Big Ten preseason coaches' poll, announced by the conference office today. The Illini are coming off a 2008 season where they made the NCAA Sweet 16 for the third time in five seasons and finished tied for fifth in the Big Ten.
Penn State was picked to finish first in the Big Ten for the seventh consecutive season. The Nittany Lions won their 11th consecutive Big Ten title in 2008, sharing the league crown with Minnesota. Michigan State was voted to finish second, as the Spartans return the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in Laura Heyboer, who totaled 47 points in her freshman season.
Illinois is seeking its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament in 2009, and should be led by a pair of All-Big Ten performers in senior midfielder Jackie Santacaterina and junior defender Danielle Kot. Senior forward Chichi Nweke returns up top as the leading scorer from 2008, while senior goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka is also back after leading the Illini to nine shutouts a year ago.
The Illini host Cincinnati at the Illinois Soccer Stadium this Friday at 4 p.m. in an exhibition contest, officially opening the season on Friday, Aug. 21 at home against Illinois State at 7 p.m.
Big Ten Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Penn State
2. Michigan State
5. Ohio State