WHO: Illinois Fighting Illini @ Maryland Terrapins
WHAT: Women's soccer B1G Conference game
WHERE: Ludwig Field, College Park, MD
WHEN: Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm
WATCH: In person
The Terps failed to score against Northwestern Friday night but managed to grab one point as they also held the Wildcats scoreless in Maryland's third 0-0 tie of the season. They need to find a way to manufacture goals in what should be a tougher challenge with Illinois. The Illini come to College Park on the heels of a four game losing streak but bring with them one of college soccer's most prolific scorers in Janelle Flaws.
Illini on the pitch
By most measures, Illinois would consider their 2013 season a reasonable success. The Fighting Illini finished 11-9-3 overall and their 5-5-1 conference record earned them fifth place in the Big Ten. Though they dropped their first game in the B1G Tournament, they picked up 2 wins in the NCAA Tournament before losing in the Sweet Sixteen to Boston College.
After falling 2-1 at Rutgers Friday, the Illini come to College Park 9-6 on the season and 4-5 in the conference. They have twelve points and sit one spot and one point behind the Terrapins.
Illinois got off to a strong start in their non-conference schedule winning five of six with their only loss coming to then 16th ranked Notre Dame. After dropping their conference opener at Iowa, they reeled off four straight wins but come to College Park losers of four straight. Three of those four losses have come on the road.
Players to watch
Janelle Flaws, #3, redshirt senior, forward. Flaws surname is ironic if it pertains to he skills as a striker on the soccer pitch. She scored 23 goals in 23 games for Illinois in 2013 earning her the award as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the year. Showing that the previous season was not an aberration, Flaws has backed that season up with 16 goals in 15 games thus far this season as well. She takes three times as many shots as any of her teammates and is responsible of more than half of Illinois' goals this season.
Claire Wheatley, #1, sophomore, goalkeeper. Wheatly played in all 23 games for Illinois in 2013 and has started all but two games thus far this season. Her performance is noteworthy because she has improved her goals against average (GAA) by more than a full goal per game and has added over 70 points to her save percentage. As a freshman, Wheatley's GAA was 2.14 and she has turned that around to 1.03. Similarly, she has nudged her save percentage from .669 to .741. This may have as much to do with an improved overall defensive effort by the Illini as it does with her own performance, however, as she is making two fewer saves per game in her sophomore campaign.
No real surprise here. Illinois is yet another Big Ten opponent that Maryland is facing for the first time.
After Friday's game with Northwestern in which the Terps again failed to find the back of the net, Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan said that his squad had four great chances left and that the conference would likely not be decided until the season's final weekend. He also noted that, because of their scoring challenges, his team had left several chances for points on the pitch that would have solidified their position in the standings.
An unlikely sweep of their four remaining would give the Terps 25 points and likely move them into fourth place in the conference. However, even picking up the first of those wins is a daunting proposition for the Terrapins. Expect Illinois to challenge Maryland by keeping five players back - as teams have often done - and counterattacking with Flaws who has scored 39 goals in 38 games over the last two seasons. To earn that much needed result, the Terps will not only have to shut down one of the NCAA's most prolific goal producers but will also have to finish goals themselves.
Sunday is senior day for Maryland. It is the final home game for goalkeeper Kristene Mumby, midfielder Cory Ryan, and for forward turned defender turned forward Shade Pratt. The Terps will close out their first B1G season with three consecutive road games.