Soccer | 10/13/2021 12:26:00 PM
MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota (6-4-3, 2-4-0 B1G) makes its season debut on the Big Ten Network when Illinois (5-7-1, 1-4-1 B1G) comes to Minneapolis on Thursday. The match is set for 8 p.m. CT at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Oct. 14. The Golden Gophers then will travel to Evanston on Sunday, Oct. 17, for a 3 p.m. kick at 3 p.m.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE THIS WEEKEND?
Minnesota: With wins over Illinois and Northwestern, the Gophers would propel themselves to 12 B1G points, likely putting them inside the top-eight in the Big Ten standings with two mathces to go this season
Minnesota: A clean sweep this weekend over both Illinois-based Big Ten teams would be the first time Minnesota defeated both Illinois and Northwestern in the same season since 2012
Illinois: With matches with Minnesota and Iowa, the Fighting Illini could make a late-season Big Ten Tournament push with a pair of wins this weekend
Northwestern: Currently sitting in sixth in the Big Ten, six points would all but confirm the Wildcats place at the 2021 Big Ten Tournament and put them in position to earn a top four seed and host the first round
LAST TIME OUT – NO. 25 PURDUE
The University of Minnesota (6-4-3, 2-4-0 B1G) was unable to hold on to a 2-0 lead on the road in a 3-2 loss to No. 25 Purdue in West Lafayette on Oct. 10. Sophomores Sophia Boman and Christa VanLoon scored for the Maroon and Gold in the defeat.
“We are disappointed with the result today, anytime you go into halftime with a 2-0 lead it can be a dangerous score line because you can sometimes feel a little too comfortable,” head coach Erin Chastain said. “Even though we prepared our group for that, Purdue came out and set the tone in the second half. We never really had anyone step up and set the tone on our side in the second half. I thought we did set the tone in the first half, which is the positive, but good teams with good players will do that. They are a top 25 team for a reason and have gotten a lot of results this season.
– The last time the Gophers played Illinois and Northwestern the team played in the Recreation and Wellness Sports Field Complex in Minneapolis.
– Illinois last made the NCAA Tournament in 2013, reaching the third round after picking up victories over No. 21 Washington State and No. 7 Portland before falling to Boston College
– Northwestern last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2018, falling to NC State in the first round on the road 1-0
– Minnesota is currently on a seven-match winning streak against the Boilermakers with the last loss for the Gophers in the series coming in 2011
– The 2021 season for Minnesota will be the first under the new leadership of Erin Chastain who returned to her alma mater after serving as the head coach at DePaul for the past 14 seasons
– The University of Minnesota coaching staff is comprised of four women, making them one of just four staffs across the Power 5 conferences to have an all-female staff
PLUG AND PLAY
So far this season the Gophers have had to adapt and adjust to who is available with seven different starting lineups so far this season. In impressive fashion Elizabeth Overberg is one of two Big Ten true freshmen that have played every minute this season (Sydney Jones, Ohio State), playing as a center back for the Gophers alongside senior captain Delaney Stekr who has also played all 1230 minutes this season.
Since Big Ten play began on Sept. 18 the Gophers have been the Big Ten’s most lethal offense, scoring 13 goals in six matches (with a league-leading scoring average of 2.167). Minnesota has not only been scoring, but they have done it in the most efficient fashion, holding a league-best 21.3 scoring percentage during Big Ten play. Individually during conference play, Izzy Brown leads the Gophers and is tied for the second most goals in conference play with four with her 22.2 scoring percentage the best on the team this season. Additionally, is one of just three Big Ten schools this season to score in every Big Ten match along with now No. 19 Purdue and No. 9 Rutgers.
The Fighting Illini (5-7-1, 1-4-1 B1G) are fresh off a 1-1 draw with Wisconsin, who is receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll. The Illini are unbeaten in their last two matches with their latest win being a 2-1 victory over Maryland at home. Illinois’ Big Ten Network matchup with Minnesota is the team’s second match on the national TV stage this season, Illinois earlier this season fell to then No. 2 North Carolina by a score of 5-1. Illinois is offensively led by redshirt senior midfielder Hope Breslin who has scored six goals this season, including that goal against the Tar Heels back in August. In Big Ten play defender Kendra Pasquale has been the biggest offensive threat being the only Illinois student-athlete with multiple goals since conference play started. Multiple goalkeepers have seen action for Illinois this season with Julia Cili making the most recent start in the 1-1 draw with Wisconsin. Cili holds a 1.82 goals against average this season and has made 31 saves with a 3-3-1 record in seven matches.
As a team Illinois is fourth in the Big Ten this season in total goals this season scoring a total of 24, but just six during conference play. Overall the Illini are one of the cleanest teams in the country in regards to fouls per match with just 11.69 this season. Last time the Gophers and Illini met up it ended in a scoreless draw at the Recreation and Wellness Sports Field Complex in Minneapolis.
The Wildcats (7-5-1, 3-2-1 B1G) had their four match unbeaten streak snapped last weekend in a 1-0 loss at home to Indiana. This season Northwestern’s biggest win was a road victory over then No. 12 Penn State by a score of 2-1. Offensively it has been sophomore midfielder Josie Aulicino who has made the Wildcats go this season with a total of six goals and seven assists with two of those goals coming in Big Ten play. Graduate student Regan Steigleder has also contributed a pair of goals during the conference portion of the season, scoring the gamewinners over Illinois and Nebraska. In goal senior Mackenzie Wood has made all 13 starts this season and holds a goals against average of 1.20 this season while making 54 saves.
As a team Northwestern has averaged the fourth most corner kicks in the conference this season at six per match. Other than that the Wildcats statistically field a middle of the pack squad with the squad’s best statistic being a shot on goal accuracy of 51.2 this season. Last time the Gophers and Wildcats met up it was Minnesota who claimed victory with a Sadie Harper golden goal in overtime.
Among Minnesota’s 21 goals this season 15 have come in the first half of play with two getting added to that list in last weekend’s action against then No. 25 Purdue. Specifically Izzy Brown has scored five of those first-half goals for Minnesota, who most recently scored the game-winning goal for the Maroon and Gold against Penn State in the 25 minute.
UNBLEMISHED IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
For the first time since the legendary 2008 Gopher squad that reached the NCAA Tournament Third Round Minnesota finished the non-conference portion of its schedule undefeated (4-0-3). The run in the non-conference was just the second time in program history the Gophers had not taken a loss before Big Ten play and did so without allowing a single goal.
A RECORD-BREAKING START TO THE CHASTAIN ERA
The dawn of the Chastain era has been one for the record books in 2021. Erin Chastain, who returned home to Minnesota to lead the Gophers after 14 seasons at DePaul, kicked off her opening season with a undefeated 4-0-3 start, marking just the fourth women’s soccer coach in Big Ten history, and first Minnesota soccer coach, to start her first year undefeated in her first seven matches.
Minnesota’s next test will be in front of a national television audience when Illinois comes to town on Oct. 14, to play on the B1G Network starting at 8 p.m. CT. The Fighting Illini are coming off a match against Wisconsin and are 1-4-1 in Big Ten play this season. Last time the Gophers played Illinois the match ended in a 0-0 draw in Minneapolis.