Illini to open against defending champs
CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois soccer team will begin its NCAA tournament journey against the team that starred in the 2010 event.
The Illini will host defending champion Notre Dame in a first-round match at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“Having the automatic bid (for the Big Ten), we knew we were in and that is a good thing,” Illinois senior Marissa Mykines said. “There is not as much pressure when watching the selection show and just knowing we are hosting and getting to play the defending champions is quite an honor. It is going to be a tough game, but every game from here on out is a tough one.”
The Irish have one of the sport’s best programs, having earned three national titles and 12 appearances in the College Cup. The Irish (10-7-3) earned an at-large bid after scuffling through the regular season.
“It’s definitely been a challenging season for us, but we’re excited to be part of this year’s NCAA tournament,” Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum said. “We’ve had some anxious moments the past few days waiting for the bracket to come out, and in the end we’re pleased to have the opportunity to defend our championship on the field. Illinois is an extremely talented and well-coached team, as they showed by winning the Big Ten tournament in overtime against Penn State, and it will be a test for us to go down there and play them at their place.”
With a victory, Illinois likely would visit Oklahoma State (19-1-2), seeded second in its quadrant, on Nov. 18.
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