While Maryland women’s soccer suffered its first loss of the season Sunday at Rutgers, the Terps hung with one of the best teams in the country for most of the game. Next, they get a giant step down in competition, as Maryland takes on a struggling Illinois team in Champaign. Last season, Maryland defeated Illinois for its third win of the season, the team’s final victory before a nine-game losing streak to end the year.
The Terps will have to proceed without Mikayla Dayes, whose injury suffered in August is season-ending, head coach Ray Leone confirmed this week. Dayes, who injured her leg against Richmond on August 31, still leads the team in points despite playing in just five of the Terps’ eight games.
Maryland and Illinois are scheduled to face off on Friday at 8 p.m. ET, and BTN Plus will have the broadcast.
Illinois Fighting Illini (3-7, 0-2 Big Ten)
2016 record: 6-11-1, 3-6-2 B1G
Head coach Janet Rayfield. In 15 seasons as Illinois’ head coach, Rayfield has led the Fighting Illini to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances and four Sweet Sixteens. She has totaled 180 wins, 12 winning records and two Big Ten championships in her time in Champaign.
Players to know
Alicia Barker, defender, sophomore, No. 3. Since arriving at Illinois, Barker has been a workhorse for the Fighting Illini. She’s played in 904 minuted so far this year, which leads the team among non-goalkeepers, and has started 18 of 19 possible games since the start of 2016. While she only has two points in two years, her contributions go well beyond the stat sheet.
Katie Murray, midfielder, junior, No. 26. Murray has been one of Illinois’ best players since her freshman season, playing in 45 matches and starting in 36. Despite only scoring one goal this season, she leads the team with seven shots on goal and is third with 13 total shots.
Saves per game. Illinois’ struggles means it sees more shots on goal than average, so goalkeeper Jaelyn Cunningham has had to make more saves than normal. Her 5.7 saves per game are important for a team that averages under a goal per game offensively.
Everything else. Offensively and defensively, Illinois has had its share of issues this season. The Illini have been shut out four times this season, outscored 21-8 and outshot 79-42 in 10 games.
Three things to watch
- Who plays and who sits? Last time out against Rutgers, Maryland lost two of its offensive leaders in Chelsea Jackson and Jarena Harmon for the game, and that was on top of Dayes already being out. With two games in three days, both on the road, Ray Leone might be cautious with whether or not he plays those three, assuming they are cleared to play. If Jackson or Harmon, or both, don’t play, Leone will have to get creative with his lineup.
- Can Rachel Egyed keep it up? Maryland’s junior goalkeeper was the best Terp on the field last Sunday, playing at a high level against one of the country’s best teams. While there is a step down in competition, expect Egyed to play as focused as she has all season. Additionally, Leone may decide to rest Egyed at times during this game to keep her fresh, like he decided to do in Maryland’s 2-1 victory over Gardner-Webb.
- Will Maryland improve its discipline? The Terps played a very physical game against Rutgers, resulting in 10 team fouls and a Leone yellow card. This game is a good chance for Maryland to reel back on that kind of physicality by playing aggressively without committing as many fouls.