Illinois will find out how they stack up against a pair of teams from the nation's premier soccer conference.
Illini Week in Review
The remnants of Hurricane Isaac impacted the Illini's schedule over the weekend, forcing the postponement of their game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee from Saturday evening to Monday afternoon. Based on their performance, Illinois was just fine waiting another 31 hours to play. Three different Illini found the back of the net in a 3-1 win over the Panthers. Senior Nicole Denenberg started off the scoring for Illinois after splitting a pair of Milwaukee defenders in the 20th minute.
Illlinois took a 1-0 advantage into the half, and added quickly to their lead in the second period. Off a Megan Pawloski flip throw, senior Kristin Gierman headed the ball to freshman Taylore Peterson, who notched her first career goal to give the Illini a 2-0 edge. Then in the 60th minute, freshman Nicole Breece continued her strong start to the season by finding senior Marissa Holden just outside the 18-yard box. Holden hit a beautiful shot to the upper-90 to round out the Illinois scoring.
Milwaukee's lone goal came in the 69th minute from Kelly Lewers off a nice feed from Kelsey Holbert for the final margin of 3-1. The Illini outshot the Panthers 15-6, with seven Illinois shots on goal. Corner kicks also favored the Orange & Blue by a count of 5-2. The win improved the Illini's record to 3-1-1 on the season.
To the Polls
This week's NSCAA Top 25 once again has Penn State at the top of the Big Ten heap, checking in at #7, up one spot from last week. Wisconsin is down one spot to #15 after suffering its first loss at UCLA. Minnesota is receiving votes, with the Illini garnering one vote this week.
Illinois moved up two spots in this week's NSCAA Great Lakes Regional rankings to #8. Somehow they're behind Michigan State, who has a loss to Cal State Fullerton, and Michigan, who lost a pair of games on the west coast last week.
The Soccer America Top 25 has Penn State unchanged at #6, with Wisconsin down five slots to #16.
Illinois remains at #20 in the Top Drawer Tournament 64 rankings this week. Penn State is at #10, Wisconsin #29, Michigan State (!) #36 and Iowa at #37.
In the Soccer Times Top 25 Coaches' Poll, Penn State is unchanged this week at #5, and Wisconsin climbs two spots to #20. Iowa is receiving votes.
Our Game Magazine's Top 25 still has Penn State at #2 this week, with Wisconsin slipping a couple of spots to #25. Minnesota is among their "teams to watch" this week.
What's on Tap
It will be a challenging weekend for the Illini, as they are in Winston-Salem at the Demon Deacon Invitational. They face Virginia Tech this afternoon in a 4pm central time start. The Hokies are off to a 6-0-0 start and sport a #11 ranking (NSCAA). Then on Sunday they'll battle the host #17 Wake Forest in a 1pm start. The Deacons are 4-1-1 so far in 2012. This is the final non-conference weekend for Illinois, and their last without head coach Janet Rayfield and All-American Vanessa DiBernardo, who will return from the U-20 World Cup in time for next Sunday's Big Ten opener vs. Iowa.
I'll put together my first Big Ten power rankings after this weekend's games, as that will conclude non-conference play for the majority of the league's schools. As always, thanks for reading.