The Washington State Cougars (14-3-3, 7-3-1 Pac-12) host the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-8-2, 5-5-1 Big Ten) for a first-round College Cup match at 1 p.m. on a snow-covered Lower Soccer Field Saturday. The Cougs will be hosting their first NCAA tournament game since 2000.
The Illini are making their fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, and their 10th appearance under head coach Janet Rafield (150-88-24 at Illinois). Rayfield’s squad has had a balanced offensive attack in 2013, with 13 different players scoring at least one goal.
Illinois' offensive attack has been at its best in the second half; the Illini have scored 35 goals in the second half this season, that’s almost twice the number of goals they’ve scored in the first half (13).
The Illini defense is anchored by talented freshmen goalkeeper Claire Wheatley. Wheatley’s 87 saves on the season are the second most in the Big Ten conference. Illinois spent the majority of the season without one of its best players, senior midfielder (and preseason All-American) Vanessa DiBernardo – she missed seven games with a knee sprain. During that seven-game stretch, Illinois went 2-5.
DiBernardo has 104 points throughout her four-year career, placing her third all-time in program history.
This is the second time WSU and Illinois have met on the soccer pitch; the first time was on Sept. 5th, 2008 in Knoxville, Tenn. That match ended with Illinois topping the Cougs, 2-1.
The winner of this match will take on the winner of the Seattle-Portland match in the second round. If you can’t make it to watch in Pullman, WSU will be running a live stream of the contest.
Game time: 1 p.m. PT
Location: Lower Soccer Field in Pullman, WA
Live video stream: Hosted on Pac-12.com