CHAMPAIGN — It probably should come as no surprise that Illinois produced the Offensive Player of the Big Ten Tournament in women's soccer.
After all, the No. 16 Illini emerged from the eight-team scrum at Northwestern's Lakeside Field in Evanston last week with the first-place trophy.
What likely did open some eyes, however, was the identity of the award recipient.
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.
EVANSTON — When Illinois started the Big Ten slate 0-2-1, all those fuzzy feelings from a 6-2 nonconference slate started to disappear.
The NCAA tournament might have been looking bleak.
Well, Janet Rayfield's never-say-die Illini haven't lost since that three-match road swing ended without a victory.
EVANSTON — Not long ago, Illinois simply was hoping to make the 64-team NCAA soccer tournament.
But a late-season flourish — and a run to the Big Ten tournament title match — has Janet Rayfield's hard-charging bunch wanting more.
EVANSTON — After playing to a 1-1 draw through regulation and two overtimes against Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament, the Illinois women's soccer team needed a big effort from goalkeeper Steph Panozzo during a shootout.
PARK RIDGE — Janet Rayfield did something for the first time in her 10 years at Illinois.
After leading her team to second place in the Big Ten, Rayfield was named the league's Coach of the Year on Tuesday.
News you can't leave work without: Illinois' Janet Rayfield was named women's soccer Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading her team to second place. The Illini are 14-4-1 overall and 8-2-1 in the Big Ten heading into this week's conference tournament in Evanston.
The Illini are ranked No. 20 with an RPI rating of No. 32.
The Illini are looking for their first Big Ten Tournament title since 2003.