Can Illini Soccer Keep Sparty Down?
Michigan State hasn't scored a goal against the Illini since 2002.
Illini Week in Review
All in all, it wasn't a bad weekend for the Illinois soccer team on the road last weekend at Indiana and Purdue, yet the Illini came away feeling like they could have done a bit more. It took the first career goals of two reserves on Friday night to complete a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Hoosiers, who entered the game winless in Big Ten play. Then, on Sunday, despite creating many more chances, and outshooting Purdue 24-11, Illinois could only manage a 1-1 tie in West Lafayette. The results leave the Illini alone in third place in the Big Ten with a 3-1-1 league mark.
Congratulations to junior Allie Osoba and freshman Amy Feher on notching their first career goals on Friday night. The Illini trailed late in the second half after an Orianica Velasquez goal in the 56th minute gave the Hoosiers a 1-0 advantage. Feher got the Illini on the board in the 79th minute off a deep cross from Kassidy Brown. Feher headed it home to tie the game 1-1. Thirty seconds after Osoba came on the field in the 84th minute, she collected a Hoosier turnover and put away the game-winning goal.
Sunday's game would also see the Illini forced to play from behind. After Hadley Stuart hustled to keep a ball inbounds in the right corner, she fed Alex Hairston on the right side of the box. Hairston blasted a left-footed shot just inside the near post to put Purdue on top 1-0 in the 21st minute. After going to the half down 1-0, the Illini would tie the score on a Nicole Denenberg goal from the left side of the box that she fired inside the far post. Despite having several chances in overtime, Illinois could not finish and settled for the 1-1 draw.
Big Ten Week in Review
Illinois 2 Indiana 1
Iowa 0 Michigan 0 OT
Michigan State 1 Nebraska 0
Purdue 1 Northwestern 0
Illinois 1 Purdue 1 OT
Indiana 1 Northwestern 0
Iowa 0 MIchigan State 0 OT
Michigan 2 Nebraska 1
Penn State 4 Minnesota 3
Wisconsin 0 Ohio State 0 OT
Penn State 3 Bucknell 1
Team of the Week: Minnesota. In a game Thursday night (covered in last week's blog), the Gophers got a vital come-from-behind victory against Wisconsin. They followed that up with a hard-fought defeat at Penn State, playing the Nittany Lions tougher than anyone else has in State College this season besides Stanford. The Gophers have fight, and they have talent. Can they keep their confidence up despite a string of one-goal losses this season?
Team of the Weak: Northwestern. The Wildcats really needed a win this weekend, which might have been their best opportunity for a win in league play. But their offense continued to struggle in Big Ten play, as they were shut out in both contests, leaving them with just one goal in five league games.
To the Polls
NSCAA Top 25. Penn State #4, Michigan #23. Iowa is receiving votes.
NSCAA Great Lakes regional rankings. Top five are Penn State, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois.
Top Drawer Tournament 64. Penn State #4, Iowa #31, Michigan #32, Illinois #38, Michigan State #40, Ohio State #45. I think Minnesota is better and has a better NCAA Tournament shot than the Spartans, but we'll find out more about MSU tomorrow night.
Soccer America Top 25. Penn State #5, Michigan #20.
Our Game Magazine Top 25. Penn State #4. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State all "teams to watch."
Soccer Times Top 25. Penn State #4. Michigan and Wisconsin receiving votes.
What's on Tap
Once again, I missed a mid-week game, as the Penn State-Bucknell game escaped my attention. Oh, well. As for last week's picks, there were a whole lot of ties, which I never pick, so I finished 6-0-4. That puts my shortened season total at 15-3-4. There's a smaller slate of games to pick this weekend, but here we go, with my winners in bold. (Note...added the Wisconsin-Green Bay game, as I missed it when I posted yesterday)
Michigan State at Illinois. Illinois leads this all-time series 14-3-2, and MSU hasn't scored a goal against the Illini since 2002. I'll take Illinois at home.
Nebraska at Wisconsin. Wisconsin really needs this win at home to avoid falling any further down the table and seriously jeopardizing their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Iowa at Minnesota. This should be a good one. The Hawkeye defense showed well at Michigan and Michigan State last weekend, but they couldn't get their offense going in a pair of 0-0 ties. The Gophers are awfully tough in Minneapolis.
Michigan at Northwestern. Last year's Michigan team might have lost this one, but Greg Ryan seems to have righted the ship in 2012.
Indiana at Penn State. The Hoosiers could get on the scoreboard if they catch Penn State with numbers forward. As for stopping the Nittany Lions...that's another story entirely.
Purdue at Ohio State. The Boilers are improved from a season ago, but don't think they'll be able to pull off the upset in Columbus.
Wisconsin at Green Bay. One of those games that will probably hurt the Badgers' RPI regardless of result, as the Phoenix are #300 at last check.
On the Air
Tim Ditman and I will have the call for tomorrow night's Michigan State-Illinois game in Champaign. Broadcast time is 6:50pm on 1400-AM in Champaign, or online at wdws.com. Thanks for reading.