Huth breaks down Big Ten soccer tourney

Huth breaks down Big Ten soccer tourney

Staff writer Jeff Huth’s take on the Illinois soccer team entering today’s Big Ten tournament at Bloomington, Ind.:

Which Illini team will show up: The gutty group that overcame a 2-0 deficit Saturday to win at No. 24 Michigan for the first time in program history?

Or the puzzling bunch that lost to a Northwestern team that finished in 10th place and tied a Purdue team that shared 11th place?

The version that takes the turf at Jerry Yeagley Field will go a long way toward determining how the defending Big Ten tournament champion fares.

In their favor, the fifth-seeded Illini (9-7-2) enter with some momentum after winning their last two regular season matches. Still, Illinois faces a highly challenging path, starting today (9:30 a.m.) with fourth-seeded Minnesota (11-7-1) and conference scoring leader Taylor Uhl. When the teams met Oct. 12 at St. Paul, Minn., the sophomore forward punched in two goals as the Gophers rolled to a 3-0 win.

If Illinois gets past Minnesota, top-seeded Penn State (16-2-1) likely awaits in the semifinals Friday (9 a.m.). The Nittany Lions dominated Illinois 4-0 on Sept. 23 in Champaign en route to their 15th straight Big Ten title, and they enter the tournament 11-0-1 in their last 12 matches.

The Illini would need a special performance to knock off No. 3 Penn State — the kind they produced last year against the Nittany Lions in the tournament title match. Illinois’ recent performance at Michigan shows it is capable.

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