Following a run to the Big Ten tournament championship match, Janet Rayfield’s Illinois soccer team learned Monday it qualified for the NCAA tournament. A look:
— “We have been talking for a long time how every win buys us one more game and that is certainly true right now,” Rayfield said. “I think we are playing great soccer but I also think we are playing with amazing heart and tenacity and an incredible sense of pride. Those are intangibles that are hard to create. I think we have a resolve that’s nice going into postseason play.”
— The Illini (10-8-3) will travel to Columbia, Mo., to square off against the Tigers (14-7-0). The match is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
— The winner of this match will face second-seeded North Carolina — Rayfield’s alma mater — or Radford.
— The Illini are on an impressive run to end the season, having won four of their last five matches, including upsets of No. 24 Michigan and No. 3 Penn State. The Tigers, on the other hand, have lost five of their last seven matches.
— The last time these teams met, in the second round of the 2008 NCAA tourney, Illinois won 4-3 in penalty kicks after the teams ended 1-1 after two overtimes.
— Missouri was 8-2 at home this season, while the Illini were 3-4-3 on the road.
— This is the ninth NCAA tournament appearance in Rayfield’s 11 seasons.