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Sports

Jeff Huth''s Illini Insider

ONE TO WATCH

WOMEN''S SOCCER

2 p.m. Sunday vs. Wisconsin

At Illinois Soccer Stadium

Janet Rayfield''s No. 10 Illini will look to kick-start their offense in their Big Ten home opener. Illinois was held to one goal – none in regulation – while opening the league race 1-1 last weekend.

Illinois Football Practice Report

Field trip

PLAYOFF''S A PAIN

Now that the Minnesota Twins have clinched the AL Central, a conflict with the Illinois-Minnesota football game becomes more likely.

The teams are scheduled to play Oct. 23 in Minneapolis. That''s the same day as the opening game of the World Series, which will be in the AL city.

Illini breaks games record

— Illini breaks Games record. Illinois student Joshua George set a Paralympics record in the men''s wheelchair 400 meters (division T53) Wednesday at Athens, Greece.

George won his first-round heat in 51.16 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 51.38, set by Korea''s Jung-Hoon Moon at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia. Former Illini Adam Bleakney also won his heat in 51.54.

Q and A: Cynthya Goulet

Her doubles partner, Jennifer McGaffigan, has graduated, but Goulet has returned as the most accomplished player on the Illini women''s tennis team. She ended last season on a 15-match winning streak in singles — a high-water mark for the team — and finished with a 26-9 record, second-best on the team. She teamed with McGaffigan to climb to a school-best No. 7 national doubles ranking and a round-of-32 finish in the NCAA tournament. A senior who sat out the 2002-03 season because of an NCAA eligibility technicality, she''s expecting to learn this week or next if she will receive a fourth season of eligibility.

Illinois football practice report

Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton threw Illinois'' Kelvin Hayden a compliment Tuesday, saying that the converted receiver was the best defensive back on his team. Hayden thinks pretty highly of Orton, too.

"He''s a great quarterback," Hayden said. "He makes all the right throws and they are nice, perfect throws. You never see him throw a bad ball. After watching film, I was kind of amazed at some of the passes he got in there. He has a great, great arm. He throws a lot of balls to the wide side of the field that any other quarterback wouldn''t throw."

Virtue''s injury leaves Illini in a bind

CHAMPAIGN – Ever since his 2000 team was decimated by injuries, Illinois volleyball coach Don Hardin routinely has qualified upbeat appraisals of the Illini with the comment "as long as we stay healthy."

On Tuesday, Hardin again was reminded – in the harshest of ways – that a team''s physical well-being can''t be taken for granted. That reminder came in the form of news that starting setter Erin Virtue will be sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

It''s business as usual despite quarterback turnover

Most of the quarterbacks are new. None of the coaches are. And the records are just about what you''d expect.

Sure, Michigan had a hiccup against Notre Dame. And Iowa got sunburned at Arizona State. But Big Ten football is right where it''s supposed to be. Every year.

Illini runners rock the vote

For the first time coach Paul Pilkington''s tenure, the Illinois men''s cross-country team received votes in the United States Cross-Country Coaches Association Poll.

The Illini, who have yet to run an "A" team race, received two votes in the national poll (63 points shy of the Top 30) and are ranked fifth in the Midwest regional poll.

Tate: Illinois fans – Don''t worry, be happy

No dues required for this organization. Just the expenditures for one bus ride and one meeting.

It''s scheduled for 6 a.m. at the Grand Canyon and, hand in hand, we''ll all sail off together sans parachutes to a heavenly land where we''ll never again have our eardrums bruised on the subject of Julian Wright, Shaun Livingston or any other phenom shunning the UI.

Tate: Don''t write UI''s chances off just yet

Prior to Saturday, Iowa and Purdue were regarded on roughly the same football level.

Both were 2-0 and ranked, Iowa seemingly compensating for key personnel losses after a 10-3 season and Purdue successfully filling huge defensive holes after going 9-4 in 2003.