|| Big Ten Tournament First Round: No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 5 Illinois
Oct. 30, 2012
After finishing the conference season with a 6-4-1 record, the Minnesota women's soccer team sets their sights on the Big Ten Tournament this week. The Gophers, who received the No. 4 seed in the competition, will fight No. 5 Illinois in order to advance to the semifinal round. The teams will battle each other in the opening match of the day at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Big Ten Tournament
The 2012 Big Ten Tournament will take place on the campus of the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind.
2012 Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament Central
The Maroon and Gold earned the No. 4 seed with a 4-2 victory over Nebraska last Friday and are paired with the No. 5 seeded Illinois in the first round of competition. The teams will face off on Wednesday, Oct. 31 in the first match of the day at 9:30 a.m. CT.
This is the sixth consecutive year that Minnesota has earned a berth into the Big Ten Tournament. The Gophers are 12-5-4 all-time in the conference postseason. They have garnered three Big Ten Championship titles (1995, 1997, 2008) in the 20-year history of the program.
Rounding Out The Regular Season
For the 15th year in a row, Penn State claimed the top spot in the Big Ten Conference, finishing first with a 10-0-1 record to earn the regular season title. Ohio State placed second while Michigan rounded out the top three.
Minnesota took fourth just ahead of Illinois as both teams finished with a 6-4-1 record but Minnesota won the edge through tiebreaker rules. Wisconsin came in sixth, Nebraska seventh, and Iowa eighth.
Just missing the tournament qualification was Indiana who compiled a 4-7-0 rate of success on the season. The final three teams in the conference, Northwester, Michigan State, and Purdue finished 10th, 11th, and 12th, respectively.
Janet Rayfield returns for her 11th year as head coach of the Illini after leading the team to a Big Ten Tournament Championship and a NCAA Tournamanet second round appearance in 2011.
Headed into the tournament, Illinois is led by junior Vanessa DiBernardo. DiBernardo has tallied eight goals and two assists for 18 points during 11 contests of the regular season.
Minnesota trails 7-9-2 in the all-time series against the Illini. Minnesota holds a slight 3-1-2 lead in the competition since 2007. The most recent meeting between the two teams came earlier this season where Minnesota won the 3-0 rout on home turf.
Sophomore Taylor Uhl has been a huge part in the Gophers’ success this season, having 19 goals and nine assists. She holds the top position in the league in points (47), a statistic that, as of Oct. 25, leads the nation. She also ranks first in goals (19), goals per game (1.00), points per game (2.47), and second in shots (76).
Uhl has been able to accomplish these marks due to notching three hat tricks already this season to become the first Gopher to do so in a single year. She has also set records for consecutive matches with a goal (nine) and a point (13).
Not only have the records shown recent on-field success for the Gophers but the women’s soccer team has been seeing benefits in the RPI standings. Minnesota is currently placed at No. 49. A Top 50 RPI ranking would prove crucial when it comes to NCAA Tournament hopes.
The defensive line has overpowered opponent after opponent this season. Of its 19 matches, the Maroon and Gold have only allowed 10+ shots on eight ocassions. In contrast, Minnesota’s offense has tallied 10+ shots in every game.
Minnesota’s back four have combined to limit the goalkeeper’s workload, allowing only 198 total shots and 23 goals (14 in Big Ten play). They have also worked to force 73 offisides infractions as opposed to the 18 comitted by the Gophers themsleves.
In the History Books
During her tenure with the Gophers, senior Cat Parkhill has carved her name into the Minnesota record books. Coming into the weekend, she sits atop the all-time list in goalkeeper minutes with 7538:25. She also ranks second with a 0.99 career goals-against-average, second with 46 career wins, and third with 271 career saves.
Defending the Robbie
The Golden Gophers have proven over their 20 seasons as a program that it is tough for opponents to pullout a road victory. Over the 20-year span, Minnesota is 120-51-12 on their home pitch, which is a .656 winning percentage.
Taking Over the Reigns
The Golden Gophers are under new leadership for the 2012 season as former head coach Mikki Denney Wright resigned to commit more time to her family. Insert new head coach Stefanie Golan, who was formerly at Army for three seasons. Golan led the Black Knights to a 33-18-10 record in three seasons while also guiding them to a NCAA Tournament berth in 2011, which was only the second in program history.