Oct. 22, 2013
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As the chase for the Big Ten championship heats up, the No. 10-ranked University of Michigan women's soccer team (12-2-1, 6-1-1 Big Ten) has its final two regular-season road contests this weekend, facing Illinois (8-6-2, 3-4-1 Big Ten) on Friday (Oct. 25) at 7 p.m. CDT in Champaign, Ill., before heading up to Evanston, Ill., to take on Northwestern (3-11-2, 1-7 Big Ten) on Sunday (Oct. 27) at 1 p.m. CDT.
Heading into the weekend, the top three teams in the Big Ten are within three points of each other. Michigan sits in second place in the Big Ten with 19 points (6-1-1), two points behind Nebraska (21 points, 7-1-0) and one point ahead of Penn State (18 points, 6-2-0). Each team has three matches remaining.
Nebraska: vs. Ohio State (Oct. 25), vs. Penn State (Oct. 27), vs. Indiana (Nov. 1)
Michigan: at Illinois (Oct. 25), at Northwestern (Oct. 27), vs. Ohio State (Nov. 2)
Penn State: at Iowa (Oct. 25), at Nebraska (Oct. 27), at Michigan State (Nov. 1)
The top eight teams qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, held Nov. 6-10 in Champaign, Ill.
Michigan is ranked No. 10 in this week's NSCAA/Continental Tire rankings, released on Tuesday. It is the second-highest ranking in school history. U-M was ranked No. 9 on Oct. 7, 2002. The Wolverines are also ranked No. 7 in the fifth edition of the RPI, released on Monday. [ Rankings | RPI ]
Out of 323 schools nationally, U-M ranks 19th in goals-against average (0.58) and 32nd in save percentage (.839). Freshman goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin is 18th in goals-against average (0.53) and 30th in save percentage (.846). Among Big Ten schools, Michigan is first in fewest goals allowed (nine) and goals-against average, second in save percentage, tied for third in shutouts (six) and last in saves (47).
Following her record-setting performance over the weekend, senior forward Nkem Ezurike picked up a pair of honors this week, being named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Monday (Oct. 21) and TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Week on Tuesday (Oct. 22). Ezurike scored three total goals last weekend (two game-winning goals) and became the program's all-time leading scorer with 45 career goals. The previous record holder was Kacy Beitel, who scored 44 goals from 1997-00. [ Big Ten | TopDrawerSoccer.com ]
Ezurike is second in the Big Ten in shots (71), tied for third in points (27), fourth in goals (10) and tied for fourth in assists (seven).
She is also currently fourth in the program's career points list with 107. The leader is Abby Crumpton, who had 116 points (43 G, 30 A) from 1999-02.
1. Abby Crumpton (1999-02) -- 116 (43 G, 30 A)
2. Kacy Beitel (1997-00) -- 114 (44 G, 26 A)
3. Amber Berendowsky (1996-99) -- 113 (40 G, 33 A)
4. Nkem Ezurike (2010-Present) -- 107 (45 G, 17 A)
Fifth-year senior defender Holly Hein was announced as one of the 10 national finalists for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award on Oct. 16. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division-I head coaches' votes to determine the winner. Fans can vote once per day until Nov. 25. The winners will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Women's College Cup in December. [ Release | VOTE ]
Michigan enters this weekend with a five-match win streak, the team's longest win streak in conference play since Oct. 12-Nov. 8, 2001. A win on Friday at Illinois would set a new program record for consecutive road wins. The current record is four, which has happened twice, most recently from Sept. 9-Oct. 6, 2012.
Since losing to Minnesota on Sept. 29, U-M has won five in a row, outscoring opponents by a 9-3 margin.
Twelve different players have recorded at least one goal this season (last: Tori McCombs at Penn State) and 16 different players -- more than half the roster -- have recorded at least one point.
The Wolverines are 6-2 in matches decided by one goal this season and 10-0-0 when scoring the first goal of the match (2-2-0 when opponent scores first). In addition, Michigan has scored more than one goal in 10 of its 12 wins and has not yielded more than one goal in any contest all season.
Attendance at U-M Soccer Stadium is up this season, recording two of the biggest crowds in the short four-year history of the complex for women's soccer: 1,273 vs. Wisconsin on Sept. 27 (second-largest ever) and 1,165 vs. Indiana on Oct. 18 (third). U-M is averaging 853 fans per match this season, the highest in the last three years (averaged 1,072 fans in 2010). Since 2010, U-M is 28-8-6 on its home field, including an 18-2-2 stretch in its last 22 matches.
Illinois is 8-6-2 on the season and 3-4-1 in the Big Ten. The Fighting Illini have won two of their last three matches but suffered a 5-0 setback at Penn State last Sunday (Oct. 20). Senior/junior forward Janelle Flaws has scored 18 goals this season, tying Elise Krieghoff (Cal Poly) for tops in the nation. The Fighting Illini also have senior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, a two-time NSCAA All-American, but she has not played in the last six matches. Despite that, DiBernardo still ranks second on the team in points (14 - 4 G, 6 A). Additionally, Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in total points (120) and goals (41) but 11th in goals allowed (35) and goals-against average (2.10).
Series: The Wolverines are 11-8-1 all-time against Illinois but have not beaten the Fighting Illini since the 2010 season. U-M was up 2-0 in last season's matchup in Ann Arbor but yielded three goals to drop the contest, 3-2, in overtime. Michigan is 3-4-1 against Illinois in Champaign.
Northwestern is 3-11-2 on the season and 1-7-0 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats' only Big Ten win came on Oct. 12 against Minnesota (2-0); they have been outscored, 18-8, in Big Ten play. Northwestern is led offensively by Kate Allen, who ranks first on the team in points (11) and assists (five) and tied for first in goals (three) and second in total minutes played (1,385). Katie Landgrebe and Julie Sierks also have three goals apiece. The Wildcats rank 10th in the Big Ten in goals allowed (1.75) and goals-against average (1.65).
Series: The Wolverines are 11-5-5 all-time against Northwestern. Michigan is 1-2-2 in its last five meetings against Northwestern, breaking a four-match winless streak in last season's meeting at Lakeside Field (2-0). U-M is 5-3-2 all-time against Northwestern in Evanston.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines returned home last weekend and recorded a pair of victories, defeating Indiana, 1-0, last Friday (Oct. 18) and Purdue, 3-1, last Sunday (Oct. 20). [ Purdue: Recap | Highlights | Photo Gallery :: Indiana: Recap | Highlights ]
Saturday, Nov. 2 -- vs. Ohio State (U-M Soccer Stadium), 6 p.m.
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Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423