Illinois to Host Eighth-Annual SoccerFest on Sunday
Sept. 23, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois will host its premier promotion, SoccerFest presented by WCIA, on Sunday, Sept. 29 when it takes on Nebraska at 1 p.m. The eighth-annual SoccerFest, which begins at noon, will feature free pizza for the first 1,000 fans, a petting zoo, a create-your-own animal keychain station, the chance to make your own caramel apple and postgame autographs. The Sunday Soccer Fan Zone also will be available for fans one hour prior to the game and a Celebrity Bumper Ballz Showdown will be held at halftime. Admission and parking for SoccerFest are both free.
The Fan Zone will be set-up with special games for fans one hour prior to the match. Face painting, a juggling contest, penalty kick practice, a radar gun and Bumper Ballz will be available for fans. During halftime of SoccerFest, local celebrities will face off in a Bumper Ballz Showdown. The inflatable Bumper Ballz, courtesy of Soccer Planet, offer a unique twist to the game of soccer, allowing players to bounce off one another while playing inside a protective bubble.
The Illini have had considerable success during each SoccerFest event, recording a 5-1-1 record in the previous seven contests held in conjunction with SoccerFest. The Illini opened the inaugural event with a three-goal comeback over #9 Penn State, 3-2, in front of a program-record 2,667 fans in 2006. Illinois has since defeated No. 24 Indiana, 3-0, in 2007, Michigan, 1-0, in 2008, Indiana, 2-1, in 2010 and Wisconsin, 1-0, in 2011. In 2009, the Illini came from behind to tie Minnesota, 2-2, in double overtime, while the Orange and Blue fell for the first time at SoccerFest last season, dropping a 4-0 decision to Penn State.
In 2013, Illinois sits at 5-2-2 overall and 0-0-1 in the Big Ten after ending the conference opener at Ohio State in a 1-1 draw. The Illini led the Big Ten with 29 goals scored, while leading scorer Jannells Flaws ranks second in the conference with nine goals. Senior Vanessa DiBernardo is tied for third in the Big Ten with six assists, which brings her career total to 21, tying her with Tara Hurless for the most in school history. Freshman goalkeeper Claire Wheatley leads the conference with 42 saves.
The Illini will kick off Big Ten play at home against Iowa on Friday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. The program's first Big Ten Tournament championship team will be honored at halftime, as they celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their 2003 title.