Nov. 1, 2006
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The 2006 Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament begins Thursday, Nov. 2 on Penn State University's campus in State College, Pa. The top eight teams, based on regular season standings, will take Jeffrey Field to battle for the Big Ten Tournament Championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State is again the top seed after earning its ninth-consecutive conference championship and No. 1 seed with a Big Ten record of 8-1-1. The Nittany Lions' title streak is now tied with Indiana women's tennis (1987-95) as the second-longest run in women's conference championship history. Only Michigan's women's swimming and diving program had a longer span of titles with 12 from 1987-98.
Junior Aubrey Aden-Buie heads up the Penn State offensive attack that leads the conference in scoring with 5.22 points per game and an average of 1.89 goals per contest. Aden-Buie has notched nine goals and 20 points for the Nittany Lions. Allie Long ranks third in the Big Ten in goals per game with five. On defense, Ali Reifler led a Nittany Lion defense that allowed a league-low 0.70 goals per game. Freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher ranks as one of the top in the Big Ten, recording 66 saves
and seven shutouts between the posts.
The Illinois Fighting Illini enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed with an 8-2 Big Ten mark, improving two spots from last year. They are second in conference play with 31 goals and 30 assists. In its ninth-consecutive appearance in the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois is led by juniors Jessica Bayne and Ella Masar. The duo tied for third in league play with five goals a piece while Masar ranks among the best in the conference in overall assists. Emily Zurrer and the Illini defense have recorded 18 shutouts with just a 1.09 goals allowed average. She became the first non-goalkeeper to win multiple Defensive Player of the Week awards in one season after earning the weekly laurels on Sept. 11 and Oct. 23.
Third-seeded Purdue finished the conference season with a 6-3-1 record and will make its 11th appearance in the tournament. The one-two punch of juniors Jessica Okoroafo and Parrissa Eyorokon leads the Boilermakers offense. The pair has tallied a combined 37 points and 15 goals overall on the season. Eyorokon leads the Big Ten
with five game-winning shots. Senior goalkeeper Lauren Mason has dominated the conference field this year, recording a league-high 10 shutouts. A three-time Defensive Player of the Week selection this season, Mason also ranks third with 83 saves.
Indiana will make its fifth consecutive trip to the Big Ten Tournament after posting a 5-4-1 conference record and closing out the regular season 9-6-4 overall. Although the Hoosiers' offensive statistics aren't striking, the team's defensive abilities have commanded the conference competition. The team leads the Big Ten with a mere 0.68 goals allowed per game. Goalkeeper Stacey Van Boxmeer is second in the conference with a 0.65 goals against average and has posted seven shutouts.
Michigan enters the tournament with hopes of returning to the championship game after advancing to the 2005 final with an inspired upset spree on its home turf. Earning the No. 5 seed with a 4-3-3 Big Ten record, the Wolverines will make their 13th appearance in the postseason event. Tied with Ohio State's 15 points, Michigan
won the tiebreaker after claiming the teams' head-to-head meeting 2-1 in overtime. Melissa Dobbyn leads the Wolverines' offense, holding the top spot in the Big Ten in shots with 84. She also ranks in the top 5 with six assists. Senior goalkeeper Megan Tuura own a league-best goals against average of 0.54.
Ohio State earned the sixth seed and returns to the tournament for the first time since 2004. Commanding the Buckeye offense are Lara Dickenmann and Lisa Collison. Tops in the Big Ten in assists, Dickenmann has picked up nine this season while Collison leads the league in goals with 11.
Wisconsin earned the chance to defend its 2005 Big Ten Tournament title and its second-straight No. 7 seed after defeating eighth-seeded Northwestern to close out league play. The Badgers claimed their second tournament championship last year with a 3-1 win over Michigan.
Rounding out the field of eight, Northwestern returns to the Big Ten Tournament after missing the postseason in 2005. The Wildcats (4-5-1 Big Ten, 8-9-1 overall) are led by junior forward Kelsey Hans whose seven goals rank fifth in the conference. Boosting Hans' offensive production, Jenny Dunn has dished six assists for the Northwestern squad that ranks third in the league in goals (30).