Title within UI''s reach
MADISON, Wis. – Illinois is headed to the NCAA tournament in soccer.
It''d like to go there as Big Ten champion.
"It would be nice for our confidence," UI coach Janet Rayfield said. "It would be another big step for this program."
The Illini (15-3-2) are a win away from their first Big Ten tournament title after their 2-0 win against Purdue in Friday''s semifinals. They will meet Michigan at 1 p.m Sunday with the league''s automatic bid to the NCAAs on the line. Michigan beat Wisconsin 1-0 on Friday.
"How important it is to the selection committee if we''re Big Ten champs, I don''t know," Rayfield said. "I''m sure it wouldn''t hurt."
The shutout was the UI''s fifth in a row, the second time this season it has put together a streak that long.
"Sunday would be a great day to break the record," Rayfield said.
Tara Hurless assisted on second-half goals by Meghan Kolze and Jessica Bayne. Leisha Alcia made four saves for her 11th shutout this season.
The Illini''s effort, led by Paula Flaherty and Kelly Campbell, earned them rest today.
"I promised them if they won I''d let them sleep in," Rayfield said.
Michigan is seeded third. No. 2 Illinois became the highest seed remaining when No. 1 Penn State was upset in Friday''s quarterfinals.
"That doesn''t matter. To win, you have to beat good teams every game," Rayfield said. "Whoever shows up on the other side of the field, we have to play our best."