Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield led the Illini to yet another successful season in 2011, with a program-record 17 wins.
Dec. 3, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois soccer head coach Janet Rayfield earned the NSCAA/Mondo Great Lakes Coach of the Year honor for the second consecutive season, as announced by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America on Saturday afternoon. Rayfield's 2011 squad went 17-5-2 overall, won the Big Ten Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament - the eighth appearance in Rayfield's 10 seasons.
To secure the successful campaign, during which Illinois set the single-season program record for victories, the Orange and Blue overcame the graduation of key components from the 2010 squad and adjusted to playing a three-back defensive system for the first time under Rayfield. While making the necessary modifications on the backline, Rayfield's offense eclipsed the production levels set during the previous 10 seasons, earning 142 points on 53 goals and 36 assists.
At 6-4-1 overall and 0-2-1 in Big Ten competition six weeks into the 2011 slate, Rayfield, who earned the Big Ten Coach of the Year honor as well, guided Illinois to eight consecutive victories to end the regular season and slot the Illini in the No. 2 spot for the 2011 Big Ten Tournament. After working past NCAA Sweet Sixteen-bound Ohio State on penalty kicks, 4-2, the Orange and Blue used overtime to drop Michigan State in the semifinals, 1-0, and No. 1-seed and No. 11-nationally ranked Penn State, 2-1, in the championship contest. With the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament secured, Illinois hosted Notre Dame in the first round. The Illini earned a 1-0 victory in the contest by stifling 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy runner-up Melissa Henderson and the entire Fighting Irish offense - becoming the only team to send the defending National Champions out following the first round in tournament history.
To secure the NSCAA Great Lakes Coach of the Year honor a season ago, Rayfield led the 2010 Illini to a 13-5-1 record and an NCAA Tournament berth. Combined over the previous two years, Illinois is 30-10-3 overall and 14-5-2 in Big Ten play, while the Illini have dominated the opposition at home during the same time span, accumulating a 17-2 record at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium.
Recipients of the national awards will be announced on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 at the annual NSCAA Convention.