Junior Christina Sahly has started every game at forward this season for Illinois.
Sept. 9, 2009
Game 6: #11 ILLINOIS (3-1-1) at #2 PORTLAND (5-0-0)
Friday, Sept. 11 // 9 p.m. CT // Clive Charles Soccer Complex // Portland, Ore.
On The Air
Radio: Live audio at portlandpilots.com
Livestats: Linked on fightingillini.com
The Series: Friday marks the first-ever meeting between Illinois and Portland.
Game 7: #11 ILLINOIS (3-1-1) vs. WASHINGTON (3-1-0)
Sunday, Sept. 13 // 2 p.m. CT // Clive Charles Soccer Complex // Portland, Ore.
On The Air
Livestats: Linked on fightingillini.com
3-0-0 this year when scoring first
20-38-2 all-time against ranked opponents
4-19-0 all-time against top-10 opponents
72-29-4 all-time in non-conference games
#11 Illini Travel to Nike Portland Invitational
No. 11 Illinois is back on the road this weekend, traveling to Portland, Ore. for the Nike Portland Invitational on Friday and Sunday at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex.
The Illini will face their second top-10 opponent in eight days in playing No. 2 Portland on Friday night. Last Friday, the Orange and Blue lost a hard-fought battle with No. 9 UCLA by a score of 2-1. The last time the Illini beat a top-10 ranked opponent was on Sept. 14, 2007, when they beat No. 9 Florida 1-0 in Champaign.
Illinois will return to the Clive Charles Soccer Complex on Sunday, playing Washington at 2 p.m. CT. Following that match, Portland will face Miami.
Illinois in the Polls
Illinois is hanging tough in the NSCAA poll, receiving early recognition for its 3-1-1 start and tough schedule. The Illini currently stand at No. 11 for the second straight week after a 2-1 loss to No. 9 UCLA and a 3-0 win over UC Santa Barbara. The highest Illinois has ever been ranked nationally is No. 7 in the 2003 season.
The Orange and Blue are also currently ranked No. 13 by Soccer Times and No. 20 by Soccer America. Additionally, the Illini were the preseason pick to finish third in the Big Ten by the conference coaches.
Scouting the Pilots
Portland is an undefeated 5-0-0 heading into the weekend and are currently ranked No. 2 in the latest NSCAA poll. The Pilots have dominated and out-scored their opponents 16-1 so far this season, allowing their first goal last Sunday in a 5-1 win over Columbia. Junior Sophie Schmidt leads the team up top, with 14 points this year including four goals against Columbia. Schmidt is one of three Pilots on the Hermann Trophy Watch List, joining senior goalkeeper Kelsey Davis and senior midfielder Michelle Enyeart. Last year, Portland advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
About the Huskies
Washington picked up a pair of wins last weekend, defeating Columbia 3-0 and Colorado College 3-1 in the Husky/Nike Invitational. The Illini will be the second ranked opponent the Huskies have faced this season, as they lost to Portland 2-0 in their second match of the year. Offensively, six different players have two or more points for Washington, led by sophomore Kelli Stewart's six. The Huskies made the 2008 NCAA Tournament, advancing to the second round.
Last Time Out
No. 11 Illinois had an impressive weekend of soccer in the Illini Challenge Cup, giving No. 9 UCLA all it can handle in a 2-1 defeat on Friday, then responding with a dominant 3-0 win over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday. Against the Bruins, senior Chichi Nweke scored in the 37th on an assist from freshmen Niki Read and Shayla Mutz, tying the game 1-1 after an early UCLA goal. Bruins' All-American Lauren Cheney was the difference-maker in the match, scoring the game-winner and frustrating the Illinois defense with eight shots throughout the night. Illinois played some of its best soccer of the season and had chances on net, but fell short in a 2-1 defeat.
The Illini responded on Sunday with a 3-0 win over UC Santa Barbara, dominating the match and out-shooting the Gauchos 29-5. Illinois was led by junior Jordan Hilbrands, who scored two goals and had four shots. Read had a goal and an assist, while sophomore Marissa Mykines had two assists.
Junior forward Jordan Hilbrands has had a breakout 2009 thus far, with five goals on the season to lead the Illini and rank tied for first in the Big Ten. Nine of her 12 shots this year have been on goal. Hilbrands has had multiple goal games twice, scoring two goals apiece in Illinois' wins against UC Santa Barbara and #18 Colorado. After her performance against the Buffaloes, the Bexley, Ohio native was named a Primetime Performer of the Week by CollegeSoccer360.com. Heading into this year, Hilbrands had just three career goals.
Read Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week
Freshman forward Niki Read is the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, tallying four points last weekend in the Illini's matches against No. 9 UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. The Lake Orion, Mich. native had the first assist of her career against the Bruins, then scored a goal and an assist against UC Santa Barbara. Read shared the Big Ten laurel with Minnesota goalkeeper Cat Parkhill.
Read has been one of Illinois' most dynamic players this season, playing the most minutes out of any forward. Her six points on the season rank first among all Big Ten freshmen along with Purdue's Vanessa Ibewuike.
Kapicka Back in Net For Illini
Goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka also is coming off of a solid weekend of play, collecting her 11th career shutout against UC Santa Barbara and recording eight saves against UCLA. Kapicka currently leads the Big Ten with 19 saves on the season and has a goals against average of 0.77. In her first season as the starter, Kapicka finished 2008 with an 0.80 goals against average to rank third-best in the Big Ten and second all-time in school history. Additionally, she posted nine shutouts - good enough for the second-most in the conference - and allowed one or fewer goals in 19 of 23 games.
Finding the Back of the Net
Five games into 2009, Illinois has been productive offensively in averaging 2.20 goals per game, a major improvement from 2008 when the team averaged 1.04 goals per game. The Illini have yet to be shut out, something that happened to them nine times in 2008. The Illini are also out-shooting their opponents 94-59 and have a 35-25 advantage in shots on goal. A total of six players have scored so far this year, led by Jordan Hilbrands' five goals.
Nweke Looks to Continue Climb
Forward Chichi Nweke has already made her place in the Illinois offensive record books, and looks to continue climbing the charts in her senior season. Nweke currently ranks seventh in career points with 51, is tied for eighth in career goals (18) and 10th in career assists (15). She also holds the school record for goals in a game with six other players, with a hat trick against Utah in her freshman season. The Virginia native scored her first goal of 2009 last weekend against No. 9 UCLA.
Three Illini Named to DU All-Tourney Team
Illinois had three representatives on the DU Invitational all-tournament team, with junior Jordan Hilbrands, junior Krystin Miller and midfielder Marissa Mykines all receiving the honor. Hilbrands scored both goals in the Illini's 2-1 win over #18 Colorado, also creating havoc for the Denver defense. Miller had one of the best games of her career against Colorado, playing all 90 minutes at centerback, while Mykines had a total of four shots over the weekend and played 163 minutes in the midfield.
Miller Makes Her Mark
Junior Krystin Miller had a memorable performance against Illinois State, as she was instrumental to the Illini win on both sides of the field. Making her first career start, Miller scored her first-ever goal in the 37th minute on a penalty kick. Then in the 54th, she headed away an Illinois State shot on goal to preserve the Illini shutout. Miller played all 90 minutes at center back, more minutes than she totalled in her first two seasons combined. The next weekend at the DU Invitational, Miller continued her strong play and was subsequently named to the all-tournament team. She made a position switch from midfield to defense this season.
Illinois may have put together its toughest schedule ever under head coach Janet Rayfield with its 2009 list of opponents. Ten of the 19 teams the Illini will face this season made the 2008 NCAA Tournament field, including College Cup participant UCLA and Portland, which advanced to the Elite Eight. In the current NSCAA rankings, three of Illinois' opponents are in the top-10 (No. 2 Portland, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Purdue), and the Illini will face seven teams that appear in the top-25.
Illinois TV and Radio Broadcasts
Illinois soccer will receive unprecedented exposure this season, with at least three games televised on the Big Ten Network and five games broadcast on WDWS AM 1400 (and also streamed on fightingillini.com).
The Illini's three matches on the BTN in 2009 tie them with Michigan State for the most televised games in the Big Ten. Illinois' game at Northwestern on Nov. 6 could also potentially be televised if it is chosen for what is now a Wildcard game. Below is a list of the remaining television and radio broadcasts:
Illinois on the Big Ten Network
Sunday, Sept. 27 vs. Minnesota // 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 25 at Penn State // 1 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30 vs. Michigan State // 7 p.m.
Illinois on WDWS AM 1400
Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Wisconsin // 1 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 22 vs. Ohio State // 6 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 1 vs. Michigan // 1 p.m.
All-Big Ten Performers Return
Six members of the 2009 Illini squad have earned Big Ten accolades in past seasons. Senior Jackie Santacaterina was named to the All-Big Ten second team in both 2007 and 2008, while junior Danielle Kot was an All-Big Ten second team selection last season. Senior Chichi Nweke was the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and named to the All-Freshman team the same season, while Kot, Laura Knutson and Cory Steigerwald were selected to the 2007 Big Ten All-Freshman team. Additionally, senior goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka was named to the 2008 Big Ten All-Tournament team.
Rayfield Coaches U.S. National Team
Head coach Janet Rayfield had a memorable July, as she served on the U.S. Women's National Team staff for its two matches against Canada on July 19 and 22. During that span, Rayfield served as an assistant under head coach Pia Sundhage, helping to train and evaluate the national team players. The U.S. won both matches against Canada 1-0.