Courtney Bell and the No. 16 Illini travel to Iowa to finish the regular season Friday at 7 p.m.
Oct. 25, 2006
Friday, Oct. 27
ILLINOIS at Iowa 7 p.m.
...11-2 when scoring a goal
...10-1 when scoring first
...8-0 when scoring at least two goals
...7-1 when leading at halftime
...9-1 when allowing fewer than two goals
...4-1 when wearing orange uniforms
...7-1 at home
...5-0 vs. ranked teams at home
Zurrer Earns Second Conference Honor: For the second time this season, sophomore defender Emily Zurrer has been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. This time, she earned the laurel after leading the Illini defense to a pair of shutout wins over ranked Purdue and Indiana squads. With the honor, Zurrer became the first non-goalkeeper to win multiple Defensive POW awards in the same season in conference history. She was also named to Teams of the Week by TopDrawerSoccer, Soccer Buzz, Soccer America and Soccer Times.
Second in a Clinch: With the pair of wins over Purdue and Indiana last weekend, Illinois clinched second place in the Big Ten regular season race. Penn State grabbed hold of the title with a 2-1 comeback win against Northwestern on Sunday. The Illini won't know who they play until the Nos. 3-8 seeds are determined by Friday's final match of the conference season. Because of the sites of all the matches, Illinois will play the next-to-last match of the night, as the Michigan at Michigan State and Indiana at Purdue matches will be played at 3 p.m. (CT), while Minnesota meets Ohio State at 6:30 p.m. Northwestern at Wisconsin will be at 7 p.m., along with the Illini and Iowa.
Bring `Em On: Illinois has taken on all comers this season and has defeated most of them, holding a 5-1-0 record against ranked teams. While all five of those wins have come at home, Illinois was the underdog in all five and a heavy underdog in three of those matches. The Illini have taken down No. 9 Penn State, No. 12 Utah, No. 13 Auburn, No. 17 Purdue and No. 21 Indiana and their only loss to a ranked team was at No. 9 Texas A&M on the season's second weekend.
Masterful Masar: Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year candidate Ella Masar has done a little bit of everything for Illinois this season, leading the team in assists and goals, and leading the Big Ten with three game-winning goals in conference play. She was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for her heroics against then-No. 9 Penn State on Oct. 1. For more on Masar, see the above PDF file.
Home is Where the Upsets Are: Five ranked opponents have taken to the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium turf and all five have fallen short as Illinois holds a 5-0 record against ranked teams at home. The unranked Orange and Blue hosted No. 13 Auburn on Sept. 10 and pulled out a 1-0 win, and the No. 18 Illini blew out No. 12 Utah, 4-1. No. 15 Illinois came from two goals down to upset No. 9 Penn State, 3-2, and an unranked Illini squad upended No. 17 Purdue, 2-0, and No. 21 Indiana, 1-0.
Nweke Won't Wait Her Turn: Chichi Nweke has announced her arrival to the Illini team, currently leading the squad with six goals and sitting in second place with 15 points. Nweke's break-out game was when she notched a hat trick against then-No. 12 Utah. The Top-75 national recruit needs just one more goal to break into the top-five for goals by a freshman in Illinois history and two more assists to crack the freshman assists top five.
Fan Frenzy: Illinois broke its single-game, season and average attendance records this season, with 2,667 fans taking in the match against No. 9 Penn State, a total of 7,261 fans watching Illini Soccer in 2006 and an average of 908 fans coming to each match. Overall, Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in all matches behind Ohio State. In Big Ten matches, the Illini are second to OSU with 1,056 fans per match to the Buckeyes' 1,091. The fourth-best crowd in school history saw the Illini down Syracuse earlier in the season, with 935 fans at that match.
Illinois looks to close out the regular season on a three-match winning streak when they travel to Iowa on Friday. The Hawkeyes have begun to turn it around, going 1-0-1 against Indiana and Purdue last weekend, including a double-overtime win over the Hoosiers. For the season, Iowa is 6-10-2 overall, 1-7-1 in the Big Ten.
Illinois vs. Iowa Series Notes
Illinois is 7-4-0 all-time against Iowa, but 1-4-0 in games played in Iowa City.
The Illini have won the last three meetings and five of the last six. In those six matches, Illinois has outscored the Hawkeyes 17-7.
Scouting the Hawkeyes
As its record would indicate, Iowa has struggled offensively throughout the season, being shut out 10 times while only registering six shutouts of its own. Three Hawkeyes are tied for the team lead with two goals apiece, Stephanie Hyink, Kelsie Full and Kelsey Shaw. Hyink's eight points lead Iowa. Ali Becker has seen the majority of minutes between the pipes, logging a 1.01 GAA in 1,156 minutes while making 56 saves. She holds a 3-8-1 record with four shutouts. Before defeating Indiana and tying Purdue last weekend, Iowa had lost eight of its previous nine matches. On the season, opponents have outscored the Hawkeyes 21-11, 13-6 in the second half.
Illinois finished its home season with a bang last weekend, upsetting No. 17 Purdue, 2-0, and No. 21 Indiana, 1-0. The victories pushed the Illini's record against ranked opponents at home to 5-0 and clinched second place in the Big Ten. On Friday, the Illini peppered Boiler keeper Lauren Mason with shots in the first half, but the Purdue senior was up to the challenge, making a whopping six first-half saves. The Illini finally got one past just 55 seconds after halftime when Jackie Santacaterina scored her first career goal following a serve by Mary Therese McDonnell and a chip by Courtney Bell. Ella Masar added a goal in the 85th minute off a serve by Marti Desjarlais, and the Illini defense allowed just four shots after halftime as Illinois out-shot the Boilers 23-12.
On Sunday, Indiana's staunch defense held early, but Masar put in the eventual game-winning tally off a through-ball from Bell at the 39-minute mark. The Hoosiers managed just four shots, while Illinois' only shot on goal was Masar's goal. The Illini defense registered its second shutout of the weekend and eighth of the season thanks to some excellent ball-winning in the air by the trio of Emily Zurrer, Jackie Santacaterina and Kara Gostisha.
Dial "M" for Masar
When they've needed her, Illinois has simply called on junior forward Ella Masar to get the offense kick-started.
Against then-No. 9 Penn State, Masar scored the tying and winning goals to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors and gain mention on the Soccer Buzz and Soccer America Teams of the Week.
Versus No. 17 Purdue, Masar scored Illinois' second goal, then she put in the game-winner against No. 21 Indiana two days later for her fourth deciding goal of the year.
In all, Masar has scored or assisted on the game-winning goal seven times this season. In other words, she has helped lift Illinois to 64 percent of its victories.