Illinois Earns Fourth-Straight Bid to NCAA Tournament
Nov. 11, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For the fourth consecutive season, the Illinois women's soccer team was selected to play in the NCAA Tournament after earning an at-large bid on Monday. The Illini will travel to Pullman, Wash., to take on Washington State in the first round on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. CT. Illinois, which finished 10-8-2 and tied for fifth in the Big Ten at 5-5-1, will make its 12th appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 10th appearance under head coach Janet Rayfield.
"We were excited to see our name pop up," Rayfield said. "It's been a roller coaster of a season. There have been a lot of positive things and some really tough times. To get a new life and wipe the slate clean with a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament is what everybody hopes for. We are going to make the most of it."
The Illini were one of a conference-record eight Big Ten women's soccer teams to earn a bid into the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State all earned berths to the national tournament, breaking the previous record of six Big Ten teams that occurred in 1998, 2002 and 2010.
Illinois is 10-11-2 in 11 previous appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The Orange and Blue have reached the Sweet 16 three times, including a program-best elite eight appearance in 2004. This year's senior class will play in the postseason tournament for the fourth year in a row.
Last season, Illinois advanced past Missouri in a shootout before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina in the second round. In 2011, the Illini became the first team ever to end a defending champion's season in the opening round when they defeated Notre Dame, 1-0, but fell to Oklahoma State in the second round. In 2010, UI fell to USC in the opening round.
Illinois is 1-0 all-time against Washington State. The Illini defeated the Cougars 2-1 in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sept. 5, 2008. The winner of Saturday's game will advance to play the winner of Seattle and Portland in the second round.