2008 Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament Preview
Nov. 4, 2008
The 2008 Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament begins Thursday, Nov. 6, with the championship game on Sunday, Nov. 9. The top eight teams, based on final conference standings, will converge on the University of Iowa campus to compete for the tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
Big Ten Co-Champion Penn State earns the No. 1 seed as the result of a head-to-head tie-breaker with Minnesota and faces off against No. 8 seed Iowa in the opening round. The No. 23 Nittany Lions have garnered the top spot in the tournament in each of the last ten seasons, being crowned champions four times in that span. PSU finished the regular season with a 13-7-0 overall record and an 8-2-0 conference mark. Individual standouts for Penn State include seniors Katie Schoepfer and Zoe Bouchelle and junior goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. 2007 All-Big Ten honoree Schoepfer ranks second in the Big Ten in points per game with 1.40 and leads the conference in shots per contest with 4.10. Bouchelle, a first-team All-Big Ten member last year, has played a vital role in Penn State’s defensive success as she captains the PSU backline. Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year Naeher has only allowed a Big Ten-best four goals in conference play.
Garnering its highest seed since the 1997 event, No. 2 Minnesota squares off against No. 7 Northwestern in Game 1 of the tournament. The No. 21 Gophers improved from a 5-5-0 conference record last season to an 8-2-0 mark this year, earning the distinction of Big Ten Co-Champions. Minnesota student-athletes have earned five Big Ten Player of the Week honors in 2008, including four on defense. Outside of Big Ten play, the Gophers have allowed a mere two goals in 10 total games and boast a conference-best 18-2-0 overall record. Northwestern won its final match of the season, 1-0, against Wisconsin to earn a bid to the conference tournament.
2007 tournament champion Purdue holds the No. 3 seed and preps for battle against No. 6 Ohio State. The Boilermakers finished the regular season with an 11-6-3 overall record with a 5-3-2 conference grade. Purdue is led by junior forward Loredana Riverso and last season’s Freshman of the Year Jessica Stellhorn. Riverso is tied for third in the Big Ten with 1.10 points per game. Ohio State will look to goalkeeper Lauren Robertson, who leads the Big Ten in saves per game with 4.83, to shutdown Purdue’s offensive attack.
The final opening round game pits No. 4 Michigan State against No. 5 Illinois. The Spartans finished the regular season 13-5-2, earning their highest tournament slot since 2005. MSU is led by the forward duo of Laura Heyboer and Lauren Hill who combined for 80 total points, including 31 goals this season. The Illini will rely on two-time All Big Ten honoree Emily Zurrer to slow down the Spartan tandem.