#29 Illinois Women's Soccer 2013 Preview

Illinois Fighting Illini

Overall Rank: # 29
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
#29 Illinois Women's Soccer 2013 Preview
Illinois Team Page


Illinois is coming off of a run to the Big Ten Tournament final, as well as a second round trip to the NCAA Tournament, It was the team's 11th trip to the NCAA Tournament and ninth in the past 10 years. The Illini bring back 12 letter winners, including seven starters. The 2012 season had numerous firsts for Illinois, including the first win over a top-3 ranked team (Penn State in the Big Ten quarterfinals) and the team's first ever win over Michigan in Ann Arbor.

2012 Record: 10-9-4, 6-4-1
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Janet Rayfield

The Illini do bring back seven starters, including Vanessa DiBernardo. The senior was an All-Big Ten First Team member, as well as a Third-Team All American after scoring eight goals and assisting on five others.  Second leading scorer and member of the All-Freshman team, Nicole Breece, who had four scores and three assists and Megan Pawloski, who had a team-leading six assists also return.  Eleven different Illini scored last year and seven of those 11 are back in 2013. Meegan Johnston and Allison Stucky, both freshmen, may be looked upon to provide some scoring help. Stucky was ranked at #62 of nation's top recruits this year.

There will be a new goalie in net for Illinois this fall, as Steph Panozzo has graduated. Panozzo played all 2,164:29 minutes last season. Of the three goalies on the roster, only Lizzi Sanscrainte has seen any game action. She appeared in five minutes in a game against Northwestern in 2011. However, the team's goalie recruit, Claire Wheatley, was one of the top 100 recruits in the country and ranked the 6th goalkeeper in the class by College Sports Madness. While Illinois does return seven scorers from last season, some of them are going to need to help DiBernardo by putting the ball in the back of the net.

Final Projection:
The Illini have the talent to make a return to the NCAA Tournament. Experience, plus having the top scorer from last season, should help this veteran squad as it looks to continue its hot stretch of NCAA appearances. The toughest thing will be incorporating a new goalie. Will it be Sanscrainte, Lauren Parkin or the rookie Wheatley? Whoever it will be will be battle tested by the time the conference season comes around. The team faces Virginia in an exhibition before starting the season playing four teams that played in the NCAA Tournament; Louisville, Notre Dame, Illinois State and Arizona State. Illinois will also be hosting the Big Ten tournament this year.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Vanessa DiBernardo, Senior, M, 8
Assists: Megan Pawloski, Senior, F, 6
Shots: DiBernardo, 89
Saves: None

Madness 2013 Women’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#62 Allison Stucky
#87 Claire Wheatley


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