Scoreline spree: DI beat writer predicts, breaks down all 19 games for Illinois soccer

Graduate+Makena+Silber+fights+over+the+possession+of+the+soccer+ball+against+Iowa+Feb.+25.+With+the+new+season+coming+in+soon%2C+break+downs+of+the+games+are+shown.

Ryan Ash

Graduate Makena Silber fights over the possession of the soccer ball against Iowa Feb. 25. With the new season coming in soon, break downs of the games are shown.

By Angelle Cortes, Assistant Sports Editor

In just a couple of days, Illinois will kick off its preseason with two exhibition matches against Eastern Illinois and Notre Dame. From there, the Illini’s competitive campaign will begin with nonconference games and, eventually, Big Ten play. Let’s look at my scoreline predictions for all 19 games scheduled for the regular season.

Eastern Illinois

Prediction: 3-0 W

Illinois’ all-time record against Eastern Illinois is 3-2-0, and the last time both teams went head to head was in 2002 in Janet Rayfield’s first year as head coach. The match ended 4-0, with Illinois taking home the win. Eastern Illinois finished its spring 2020 season 2-7-1, sitting second from the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference table. 

Notre Dame

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    Prediction: 3-1 L

    The Fighting Irish are without a doubt the favorites going into this match, though it’s only an exhibition. Illinois’ all-time record is 1-3-0, with the Illini able to get a total of three goals on the board. Notre Dame posted a 6-7 record and went 4-4 in conference play, finishing mid-table in seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Missouri

    Prediction: 2-1 W (OT); game-winning goal from Kendra Pasquale 

    Looking back at the history between the Tigers and Illini, Illinois’ all-time record is 3-6-2. Also, within the rivalry’s history is many overtimes going in favor of Missouri four times, one to Illinois and two ties. 

    Illinois State

    Prediction: 2-1 W

    Illinois won the clash with its northwest neighbors back in 2019 after going down 2-1 by the 25th minute, with two penalties from Hope Breslin and alum Arianna Veland sealing the 3-2 win. The overall all-time record favors Illinois, 11-3-2. 

    North Carolina 

    Prediction: 5-1 L

    Going up against the NCAA tournament semi-finalists won’t be easy. The Tar Heels are heavy favorites and have won all three meetings between the two schools, with North Carolina ranked within the top 15 heading into all three games. 

    Butler 

    Prediction: 2-0 W

    This past season saw Butler narrowly lose the Big East Tournament after No. 10 Georgetown scored the golden goal in overtime to claim the win. The all-time history between both teams has Illinois leading the series 3-0, with the latest being a 2-1 win in 2019. 

    Xavier 

    Prediction: 4-0 W

    This past COVID-19 season saw Xavier go 3-6 overall and 2-4 in conference. Illinois leads all-time 2-0, with the last win (5-0) coming in 2007.  

    Bowling Green State

    Prediction: 2-1 W 

    This match marks the first meeting between both teams, with the match scheduled to take place in Ohio. The Falcons have made the NCAA Tournament each season since 2018, but they have failed to get past the first round, losing to Big Ten opponents Michigan and Penn State, along with losing to Ole Miss on penalties.

    Toledo 

    Prediction:  3-0 W

    I’ve mentioned before that goalkeeper alum Jaelyn Cunningham recently was hired as an assistant coach at Toledo. What would have made Cunningham’s homecoming even more sweet is if the game was held in Champaign. The Rockets finished its conference-only season with a record of 1-5-1. Toledo and Illinois have met only one other time, which was in 2011 when Rayfield and Illinois took home a 5-1 win. 

    Michigan 

    Prediction: 2-0 L

    Illinois’ first Big Ten match of the season is against one of the teams the Illini lost to last season, as they fell 2-0. With some of the Wolverines’ strong starters coming back for a fifth year, it looks like they will be strong on the field once again. 

    Purdue 

    Prediction: 2-1 W

    Last season saw Illinois barely eke out a 1-0 win against Purdue after a game-winning goal from Makena Silber in the last 10 minutes of the game. 

    Indiana 

    Prediction: 1-0 W

    In the spring, Illinois won this match up by one goal, which came off a header from Eileen Murphy. The Hoosiers and the Illini finished tied for fifth in the conference table after both posting a 6-4-1 record and 1.73 points per game last season. 

    Northwestern 

    Prediction: 1-1 D (2OT)

    In a dramatic finish, Illinois took home the win on Northwestern’s turf last year on a last-minute goal from Kendra Pasquale. However, this time I’m just going to do a wild prediction and guess that this game will end in a draw. 

    Maryland 

    Prediction: 3-1 W

    The Terrapins failed to win one game last season and ended with an 0-9-2 record. They will probably look to rebuild and gain some momentum to bounce back after a disappointing spring season. 

    Wisconsin 

    Prediction: 2-0 L

    Like Michigan, some of Wisconsin’s graduating seniors decided to come back for a fifth year, including Maia Cella and goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer. The Badgers narrowly hold the advantage in the all-time record, 12-11-4, and I see them taking home another win to further extend the lead.

    Minnesota

    Prediction: 1-0 W

    This past spring saw the match against Minnesota end as the only draw for Illinois. The Golden Gophers took shot after shot and failed to convert any of them into the goal because of Sami Sample’s performance. Minnesota lost one of its top players, Katie Duong, after she opted to transfer to Stanford, but it retained Makenzie Langdok for her fifth year. This upcoming year, though, Illinois will not have Sample, but I’m optimistic and think Illinois will grab the win.  

    Iowa 

    Prediction: 2-1 L

    A very young Hawkeye team went 2-8-1 in the regular season and then ended up winning the Big Ten tournament, beating Penn State in the semi-finals, 1-0, and Wisconsin in the final by the same scoreline. There was a midseason goalkeeper change, with sophomore Macy Enneking in the net along with fellow sophomore Meike Ingles destroying each knockout round with a game-winning goal. Having an absolute Cinderella run in the tournament, Iowa will most likely use the power of Enneking and Ingles to lead this upcoming season. Also, I had Iowa winning this matchup, but I almost changed it last second because maybe Illinois will be seeking some revenge.   

    Nebraska 

    Prediction 3-2 W

    The Nebraska game last season saw Illinois go down by one goal early, but it was able to get two goals and lead by halftime. The Illini then scored in the second half to extend their lead, and the game finished 3-1 in Illinois’ favor. Coming into the season, Nebraska will have a fairly young team with 20 freshmen coming in and only two players in the senior class. 

    Rutgers 

    Prediction: 3-0 L

    This match will be one of the hardest matches this season — aside from North Carolina and Notre Dame — and Illinois will be the underdogs. The Scarlet Knights continuously shows why they are one of the best teams in the Big Ten, especially with three-time All-American Amirah Ali, who has scored 32 goals in her four years and has one more year to demonstrate her attacking ability. In addition, the Scarlet Knights’ incoming class of 2025 is ranked No. 7 by Top Drawer Soccer, and they added graduate transfer Frankie Tagliaferri from Penn State, so it will be a tough team to beat. 

     

    @AngelleCortes

    [email protected]