Janet Rayfield has earned a 3-0-1 record during SoccerFest matches, including wins over #9 Pen State in 2006 and #24 Indiana in 2007.
Oct. 2, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - When the #21 Fighting Illini women's soccer team hosts the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday, Oct 3., at 1:00 p.m., a crowd of more than 2,000 is expected to be in attendance for the contest to experience SoccerFest 2010. A day which has traditionally featured free admission and food as well as live music and inflatable games, in addition to spectacular Illini victories, it is clear to see why the annual SoccerFest match is responsible for the four largest crowds in program history.
"SoccerFest is one of my favorite events of the season," fifth-year senior goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka said. "There isn't anything like standing on the field and seeing our stands completely full."
Another capacity crowd is expected on Sunday, with the day's festivities beginning at 11:30 a.m. A repeat appearance by the Harley Davidson motorcycles is expected while the day will again feature free admission and food in addition to providing live entertainment, games and giveaways throughout the event.
"Every time you step on the field, especially in a hard fought Big Ten battle, you seize every moment, every ounce of positive energy, every piece of support," Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said. "All of those fuel you to keep going, motivate you to reach further and encourage you to go after the win. The atmosphere at SoccerFest and our fans are certainly beneficial for us!"
With around 30 Harley Davidson motorcycles lining the track for the first time at Illinois Soccer Stadium during SoccerFest 2009, the Illini headed into halftime down, 2-1, against the Minnesota Gophers. However, Jackie Santacaterina got the motorcycle engines revving with her goal in the 49th minute to even the score, 2-2.
"I still remember that growing noise as they came down St. Mary's Road and pulled into the stadium," said Rayfield of the entrance made by the bikes. "It was such a unique moment. The engines' revving when we scored just added to the excitement - I wanted us to score again and again to help us win and to hear those motors roar!"
Following Santacaterina's tally, the Illinois defense clamped down on the Gopher's attack through double-overtime to remain undefeated during the annual event. Kapicka, one of two current players to have worn the Illini colors for each SoccerFest, earned the draw in net by stopping seven shots on the day. Kapicka, as well as the rest of the Illini, relish the opportunity to show their abilities to Illinois supporters and the Champaign-Urbana public.
"My favorite part of the day is when I look into the stands and see thousands of people cheering us on," Kapicka said. "It's exciting to share the sport I love with the rest of our community."
Originally part of the homecoming weekend, Illinois defeated #9 Penn State, 3-2, in 2006 and #24 Indiana, 3-0, in 2007 before crowds of 2,667 and 1,560, respectively. All-American forward Ella Masar, who notched two goals each in Soccer Fest 2006 and 2007, views the event as means for all fans of Illinois athletics to show support.
"I have always said Illinois has produced some of the best fans in the business. This, of course, does not change with SoccerFest weekend," Masar said.
SoccerFest shifted to a stand-alone event in its third year as Illinois downed Michigan, 1-0, on the strength of active goals-leader Jordan Hilbrands' first collegiate tally. Hilbrands received a pass from then-sophomore Laura Knutson, beat the Wolverines' defense and put a shot by the Michigan keeper into the right corner of the net to earn the game-winner.
"It was a tough game and once the ball went in the net, the entire crowd was celebrating with me," Hilbrands said of the environment created by SoccerFest. "The crowd can make a huge difference on the field. They really help push us to make the game better and more exciting."