Quick studies

   The Illinois women''s soccer team has made great strides during its first three seasons. Here''s a look at five keys for the Illini to make their first NCAA tournament appearance in Year No. 4.


SWEEP NONCONFERENCE SCHEDULE

   By jumping out to a 5-1 start, Illinois climbed into the top 25 in the rankings and reached No. 15 a week later. The Illini were 8-2 against nonconference teams. A clean sweep to start the season would help Illinois jump in the polls.


SCORING PUNCH

   Illinois scored four goals in five losses and two ties in the Big Ten. A healthy Lisa Baldwin alongside Emily Brown  who scored a record 18 goals last year  should give the Illini a strong tandem up front.


GET TOUGH ON THE ROAD

   The Illini were winless in five conference road games a year ago, and they have to travel to powerhouse Penn State this season. Early games at Wisconsin and Minnesota will also be a big challenge.


NO LETDOWNS

   The Illini were 0-2-1 against the three teams that missed the Big Ten tournament last season. All three games came during a 1-3-2 stretch during the middle of the conference schedule. An experienced team should not take those games lightly this year.


GOOD SHOWING AT TOURNEY

   The Illini should make the most of holding the Big Ten tournament on their home turf this year. They''ll have big crowd support  maybe some Dad''s Day football fans will wander over Friday and Sunday  and momentum. A strong showing, especially a championship, could carry Illinois into the field of 48.

Sections (3):Illini Sports, Sports, Soccer
Categories (3):Illini Sports, Soccer, Sports

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