Aug. 20, 2014
...beginning its 18th season in school history
...coming off its fourth NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance
...12-5 all-time in season openers
...receiving votes in the NSCAA preseason poll
...returning seven starters and welcoming 10 newcomers
Home Opener vs. #16 Notre Dame
Getting Started: Illinois kicks off the 2014 season with three consecutive home games, beginning on Friday (Aug. 22) at noon against No. 16 Notre Dame at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. The Illini, who have won five of their last six season openers, will start the year against the same two opponents as in 2013, but this time at home. The Orange and Blue boast a 12-5 all-time record in the first game of the season, while head coach Janet Rayfield is 7-5 in the opening match during her 12 seasons at the helm.
Series History: Notre Dame leads the all-time series 2-1-0 with the Illini. The Fighting Irish captured a 4-1 win over the Illini in the last meeting that began the 2013 season in South Bend. Illinois took the meeting in 2011, knocking ND out of the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 opening round victory in Champaign. Notre Dame won the first-ever matchup between the two teams, topping UI 2-0 in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament in South Bend.
Scouting the Irish: The Fighting Irish are ranked 16th in the NSCAA preseason poll and were selected sixth in the 2014 ACC preseason poll. A total of seven starters and 18 letter winners are expected to be back in the fold for first-year Fighting Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo from Notre Dame's debut team in the ACC that finished 13-8-1 last season. Notre Dame made its 21st straight appearance in the NCAA Championship in 2013, the third longest active streak of any team in Division I women's soccer.
Game 2 vs. Louisville on Sunday
Series History: Illinois will welcome Louisville to the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Sunday (Aug. 24) at 1 p.m. UI is 5-0-0 all-time against U of L and owns a 20-5 goal advantage in those contests. Illinois earned its first victory of the 2013 season the last time the two teams met, as the Orange and Blue won 5-4 in overtime on the road. UI captured a 2-1 overtime victory when the two teams played in Louisville in 2011. The Illini earned a 3-0 win in 2010 in the lone meeting in Champaign and opened the 2007 NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 overtime victory over the Cardinals. The two teams met for the first time in 1998, with Illinois blanking Louisville, 9-0, on the road.
Scouting the Cardinals: Louisville was picked to finish 10th in its inaugural season in the ACC. Last season, the Cardinals advanced to their fourth NCAA Tournament all-time. Louisville finished the season with an overall record of 12-5-2 and finished with a league record of 7-1-0 in the American Athletic Conference. The Cardinals graduated two-time Midfielder of the Year Charlyn Corral and 2014 AAC Offensive Player of the Year Christine Exeter. Louisville enters the 2014 season with 12 returning letterwinners and 14 newcomers. The Cardinals begin the season on Aug. 22 at Wright State before facing the Illini.
A Look Back at 2013
Illinois (11-9-3) reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in school history in 2013. The Illini were one of a conference-record eight Big Ten women's soccer teams (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State) to earn a bid into the 2013 Tournament. In the final NSCAA/Continental Tire Coaches Poll, the Illini were ranked No. 25, as they entered the Top 25 for the first time all season. Illinois' 54 goals in 2013 ranked as the third-most in school history and most under head coach Janet Rayfield. The Illini eclipsed their previous top mark under Rayfield from 2011 (53) and were only three goals shy of the school record of 57 set in 2000. Illinois finished tied for second in the Big Ten and 12th in the nation with 54 goals. The Orange and Blue had 14 different players find the net during the 2013 season and nine of those players are back on the roster in 2014.
Preseason National & Big Ten Polls
Illinois received votes in the NSCAA preseason poll and sits just outside the Top 25 at 29th in the country heading into 2014. In the Big Ten preseason coaches' poll, Illinois was picked to finish seventh out of 14 teams, as new additions Maryland and Rutgers make their debuts. Senior Jannelle Flaws and juniors Taylore Peterson and Aliina Weykamp were named Preseason Players to Watch in the conference.
Breaking Down the Schedule
Illinois will play a challenging 2014 schedule, including contests against 10 NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago. The Illini will face four opponents ranked in the NSCAA preseason poll in No. 7 Michigan, No. 13 Nebraska, No. 16 Notre Dame and No. 24 Penn State. Illinois will make trips to both new members of the Big Ten, Maryland and Rutgers, as part of a new 13-game conference slate, and will travel nearly 6,000 miles round trip during the 2014 regular season (5,812 total miles).
Illini Top Sycamores in Exhibition
Before beginning regular season action, the Illini played an exhibition game during preseason training (Aug. 16), defeating Indiana State 3-0 and outshooting the Sycamores 14-2. Summer Schafer scored a goal in the first half off the first of two assists by Reagan Robishaw. Alia Abu-Douleh netted the second goal in the 66th minute, while Jannelle Flaws delivered the final goal on a pass from Robishaw.
New Goalkeeper Coach Katie Hultin
Illinois features a new goalkeeper coach with Katie Hultin in her first year on staff. Hultin joins the Orange and Blue following a five-year stint with the Seattle University women's soccer team. She works with the Illini's three goalkeepers: sophomores Claire Wheatley and Michelle Denley and freshman Darci Dietrich. The returning starter Wheatley played in all 23 games last season and made 101 saves as freshman. Denley comes to Illinois after playing her freshman season at Bowling Green, while Dietrich was a three-time all-conference selection in high school.
Flaws on MAC Hermann Watch List
Senior Jannelle Flaws was selected to the Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy watch list for the 2014 season, which is the most prestigious individual award in NCAA soccer. She also was named to Top Drawer Soccer's Preseason Best XI Second Team and a Big Ten Preseason Player to Watch. Flaws was an offensive force throughout the 2013 season, scoring 23 goals to lead the nation along with St. John's Rachel Daly. Her 23 goals also eclipsed the previous school record of 18 by Emily Brown in 1999. Flaws was a first-team All-Big Ten and All-Great Lakes Region selection along with being chosen as the University of Illinois Dike Eddleman Female Athlete of the Year.
Tracking Flaws' Career Records
Senior Jannelle Flaws sits in the top 10 in several career categories in the Illinois soccer record book. She ranks fifth in shots on goal (79), sixth in goals (26), seventh in points (57) and 10th in shots (154). In Big Ten games only, she ranks fifth in goals (14) and seventh in points (30).
All-Time Wins Counter
Since becoming a varsity sport in 1997, the University of Illinois women's soccer team has compiled an overall record of 208-131-28 (.605) with 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in 17 seasons. Head coach Janet Rayfield (151-89-25) is responsible for 72 percent of those wins and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in her 12 seasons at the helm.
Illinois on the Big Ten Network
Two University of Illinois women's soccer home games will appear live on the Big Ten Network during the 2014 season. The Illini's Big Ten home opener against Indiana on Sept. 18 at 2:30 p.m. was selected to air on BTN along with Illinois' contest against Minnesota on Oct. 12, which has been pushed back an hour to a 2 p.m. start. Illinois is one of three Big Ten schools slated to have multiple home games broadcast by BTN. Nebraska and Michigan State also will have two home games televised, while a total of 11 Big Ten regular season games will be aired. BTN will televise the semifinals and championship game of the Big Ten Tournament, which will be hosted by Purdue.
Illinois on the Radio
Five Illinois games are slated to air on WDWS AM 1400 during the 2014 season. Brian Moline and Tim Ditman will broadcast the following games across the air waves: vs. Louisville (8/24), vs. Purdue (9/21), at Northwestern (10/5), vs. Minnesota (10/12) and vs. Michigan (10/26).