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Women’s soccer returns home to take on Fighting Illini

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Junior midfielder Ellyn Gruber (5) attempts to win the ball during a match against Pittsburgh Aug. 28 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 2-0. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Junior midfielder Ellyn Gruber (5) attempts to win the ball during a match against Pittsburgh Aug. 28 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 2-0.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Nearly three weeks after the team’s last home game, the Ohio State women’s soccer team is scheduled to return to Columbus to face Illinois. The matchup with the Fighting Illini (5-2-1) will be the conference opener for the Buckeyes, as they look to improve upon their current 6-1-1 record, including a 3-0-1 slate at home.

The Buckeyes are currently on a three-game winning streak, continuing last week with a sweep at the Hoosier Classic. After goals from junior midfielder Ellyn Gruber and senior midfielder Danica Wu, the Buckeyes defeated Central Michigan 2-0 Friday.

Buckeye goalies, senior Rachel Middleman and sophomore Jillian McVicker, helped shut out a St. John’s team, 1-0, that had been averaging 3.5 goals per game.

“I (was) very proud of our squad… to be put in a situation to play a rested team on a Sunday morning was unfortunate,” said coach Lori Walker. “We stepped up to the challenge and played very well as a team.”

Following Sunday’s match, the Buckeyes have moved up near the top of the Big Ten in some defensive categories as they begin conference play Friday. OSU now ranks third in goals against and corner kicks allowed, and fourth in total goals allowed, only giving up five goals through its first eight games.

The teams last met in Bloomington, Ind., for the 2012 Big Ten Tournament championship. The Buckeyes took home their third Big Ten tournament title when they defeated the Illini, 2-1.

Coming into the season, the Fighting Illini were picked to finish third in the preseason coaches poll, one spot better than the Buckeyes.

Offensively, Illinois is led by redshirt-junior forward Janelle Flaws with eight goals and senior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, who has four goals of her own. Although the Illini have scored 28 goals on the season, they have given up 18 goals defensively in eight games.

The game is set to start at 5 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

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