Christina Sahly and the Illini will host No. 19 Ohio State on Thursday before traveling to Penn State.
Oct. 20, 2009
Game 15: #19 OHIO STATE (11-2-2, 4-1-1 Big Ten) at ILLINOIS (6-5-3, 1-2-2)
Thursday, Oct. 22 // 6 p.m. CT // Illinois Soccer Stadium // Champaign, Ill.
On The Air
Radio: Delayed on Illini Sports Network - WDWS AM 1400 (Brian Moline and Kristy Weeks). Live on fightingillini.com
Livestats: GameTracker linked on fightingillini.com
Game 16: ILLINOIS at PENN STATE (8-5-2, 4-1-1)
Sunday, Oct. 25 // 1 p.m. CT // Jeffrey Field // University Park, Pa.
On The Air
TV: LIVE on Big Ten Network (Frank Giardina and Chris Doran)
Livestats: GameTracker linked on fightingillini.com
This year, Illinois is:
6-0-1 when scoring at least two goals
5-0-0 when leading at the half
5-0-1 when scoring first
Illini Face Two First Place Teams
Illinois has a challenging week of soccer, facing two teams at the top of the Big Ten. The Orange and Blue will play No. 19 Ohio State and Penn State, which are currently tied for first in the conference standings with an identical record of 4-1-1.
The Illini will welcome Ohio State to the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m., then travel to Penn State for a showdown against the Nittany Lions on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. The Illinois-Penn State match will air live on the Big Ten Network, the Illini's second televised game of the season.
Scouting Ohio State
The Buckeyes have the best overall record in the Big Ten, standing at 11-2-2. Ohio State has been led by its defense, with a total of 10 shutouts this season and a standout goalkeeper in Lauren Robertson (0.58 GAA). Offensively, Ohio State is second in the Big Ten in averaging 1.87 goals per game. Three players have 10 or more points, led by freshman Lauren Granberg's 11 points. Ohio State is coming off a successful weekend in beating Minnesota and tying Wisconsin, both on the road.
Illinois-Ohio State Series: The two teams are tied in the all-time series, with each boasting six wins. Last meeting: Illinois 2, Ohio State 0 (Oct. 26, 2008 in Champaign).
About Penn State
Penn State has won 11 consecutive Big Ten titles and is searching for its 12th. The Nittany Lions vaulted into a tie for first in the Big Ten standings last weekend, with a win at Minnesota and a tie at Wisconsin. All-American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher has five shutouts this year, while up top the Nittany Lions have three major offensive threats. Junior Danielle Toney has eight goals and 20 points on the season, senior Katie Schoepfer has 19 points and freshman Christine Nairn has 17 points.
Illinois-Penn State Series: The Nittany Lions own a 17-2-0 record against Illinois all-time, and the Illini have never won in University Park, Pa. Last meeting: Penn State 2, Illinois 0 (Oct. 24, 2008).
Last Time Out
A complete team effort led the Illinois soccer team to its first Big Ten win of the season, as the Illini defeated Iowa 3-1 on the road last Saturday. Junior Laura Knutson came off the bench to score the game-winner, while sophomore defender Julie Ewing had a goal and an assist to lead the way in the Orange and Blue's come-from-behind victory at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Junior Krystin Miller also scored on a penalty kick to ice the Illinois victory in the 86th minute.
The Illini's three goals were their most in a Big Ten game so far this season and their most since a 3-1 victory over Milwaukee on Sept. 20. Illinois has now won six of its last seven match-ups against Iowa.
Rayfield Approaches Milestone
Head coach Janet Rayfield is just one win away from her 100th career victory at Illinois, with an Illini record of 99-57-15 (.623). Rayfield is already the winningest coach in school history, as she been at the helm of the Orange and Blue program for eight of its 13 years of existence.
Masar Named To U.S. National Team
Illini alum Ella Masar was recently called up to the U.S. Women's National Team and will have a chance to earn her first national cap when the U.S. plays at Germany on Oct. 29. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage chose Masar to replace the recently retired Angela Hucles on the roster.
Masar boasts international experience, as a past member of the U.S. U-23 and U-21 national teams. She has continued her soccer career with the Chicago Red Stars of Women's Professional Soccer.
Masar starred for the Illini from 2004-07, earning All-America honors in her junior and senior seasons. She was the 2006 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and earned first team All-Big Ten honors twice.
Rock Solid Kot
Junior defender Danielle Kot is easily one of the most durable players on Illinois' roster, as she has not missed a minute of play since her freshman season. Kot has started at center back in all 57 games she has played in her career and has played the entire game in 39 straight games.
Kapicka One Of Illini Greats In Net
Senior goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka is becoming one of the top keepers in school history in just two seasons as the starter. Her career goals against average of 1.01 ranks second all-time behind Lindsey Carstens' career GAA of 0.94. Kapicka also has 12 career shutouts to rank third all-time at Illinois and has made 133 career saves to rank fourth in the history books.
Juice Gets Loose
Sophomore defender Julie Ewing, who goes by `Juice', had a career game last Saturday against Iowa in leading Illinois to a comeback win. First, Ewing tied the match at 1-1 in the 27th, scoring her first career goal after finishing a cross from teammate Jackie Santacaterina. Then in the 42nd, Ewing made another run from the defense, sending a perfect cross to Laura Knutson to assist the game-winner. Ewing's three points in the match were a career-high. She has started every game this season at outside back, typically playing the entire match.
Knutson Comes Up Big
Junior Laura Knutson has become a sparkplug for the Illini off the bench this season, most evident in the win at Iowa. Knutson subbed into the match for the first time in the 39th and made an immediate impact, scoring the game-winner minutes later in the 42nd. She played just 28 minutes against the Hawkeyes, but was proficient offensively with three shots, all of which were on goal. Knutson has seen time as both a forward and a defender for Illinois this year.
The 2009 senior class of Courtney Bell, Brittany Garrett, Alexandra Kapicka, Chichi Nweke and Jackie Santacaterina have already left an Illini legacy as they approach the end of their careers. Along with redshirt junior Christina Sahly, the class was ranked as the No. 9 recruiting class in the country in 2006 to mark head coach Janet Rayfield's top class in history. The seniors have a career record of 46-29-7 (.604) and helped the Illini to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 2006 and 2008.
Nweke Looks To Continue Climb
Forward Chichi Nweke has already made her mark 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 52, is tied for eighth in career goals (18) and tied for seventh in career assists (16). 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 against No. 9 UCLA on Sept. 4 and played a season-high 75 minutes against Wisconsin.
Junior forward Jordan Hilbrands has had a breakout 2009 thus far, with six goals on the season to lead the Illini and rank seventh in the Big Ten. When Hilbrands scores a goal, the Illini are 4-0-0. She has also been the most accurate Illini, as 56 percent of her shots have been on goal (14 of 25 attempts). The junior tallied her first assist of the season against Minnesota and has 13 points in 2009.
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 two career goals.
Mykines Stepping Up
Sophomore Marissa Mykines has become one of the most consistent Illini in 2009, starting every match and playing the most minutes out of any midfielder. Mykines is proficient at creating her own offensive chances, as all four of her goals this season are unassisted. Most recently she scored on a free kick against Indiana, marking the second time this season she has scored on a re-start. Her goal on a free kick against Loyola-Chicago marked Illinois' first goal on a free kick in over two seasons. She also scored Illinois' lone goal against No. 2 Portland, marking just the second goal the Pilots had given up at that point in the season. The sophomore ranks second on the team with 10 points, already doubling her point total from her freshman season.
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 a total of nine games broadcast on WDWS AM 1400 (and also streamed on fightingillini.com). Thursday's game against Ohio State will air on WDWS, while the Illini's match at Penn State on Sunday will air live on the Big Ten Network. Below is a list of the remaining television and radio broadcasts:
Illinois on the Big Ten Network
Sunday, Oct. 25 at Penn State // LIVE
Friday, Oct. 30 vs. Michigan State // Delayed
Illinois on WDWS AM 1400
Thursday, Oct. 22 vs. Ohio State // Delayed
Friday, Oct. 30 vs. Michigan State // Delayed
Sunday, Nov. 1 vs. Michigan // LIVE
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, Illinois has faced two of the top four teams in the nation in No. 3 Portland and No. 4 UCLA. In total in 2009, the Illini will face seven teams that appear in the top-25 or are receiving votes in the current national poll.
Illini Nearly Unbeatable At Home
Illini losses at the Illinois Soccer Stadium have become a rarity, with the Orange and Blue posting a home record of 41-7-4 (.827) beginning in 2004. The Orange and Blue have continued that trend in 2009, with a 4-2-1 home record. Illinois' best season at home was 2004 when the team went 8-0-1.
Illinois In The Polls
Illinois was ranked as high as No. 11 by the NSCAA earlier this season, but dropped out of the top-25 after losing games against #2 Portland and Washington. The Illini were nationally ranked in the first five NSCAA polls and were the preseason pick to finish third in the Big Ten by the conference coaches.
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.