The Nebraska soccer team is primed and ready for a pair of Big Ten home matches this weekend as the conference title chase heats up. After finishing a perfect 5-0 conference road record last weekend, the Huskers remain in first place in the league standings and return home for the final three regular-season matches.
The action begins this Friday, Oct. 25 when NU welcomes Ohio State to Lincoln for a 3:00 p.m. kickoff. On Sunday, Nebraska takes on No. 16 Penn State at 1:00 p.m. in a Top 25 matchup with Big Ten title implications.
For those unable to make it to Lincoln this weekend, follow all the action using the schedule page on Huskers.com with live stats and live video with a subscription on BTN.com. Be sure to follow the NU soccer team on Twitter at @NebraskaSoccer or ‘like’ Nebraska Soccer on Facebook.
Scouting Ohio State (RPI: 52, Bennett: 31, GL Region: 6)
Friday’s matchup with the Buckeyes will be the fourth meeting between the two programs, with Ohio State owning a 2-1 series edge. Last season, Nebraska dropped two decisions to OSU with a 4-0 loss in the regular season before falling 1-0 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to the Buckeyes at Indiana.
Ohio State (9-4-3, 3-3-2 Big Ten) is coming off a 6-1 victory Northwestern on Sunday after falling to Penn State Thursday, 4-2. The Buckeyes are led by Nichelle Prince’s 11 goals and six assists. Prince was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after scoring a hat trick in her last match. The freshman leads the league in game winners (5) and is third in goals (11) and points (27).
Scouting Penn State (RPI: 4, Bennett: 10, GL Region: 3)
Sunday’s matchup with Penn State will be the third meeting between the program and second-straight season they have met in Lincoln. The Huskers have dropped both contests, including a 5-0 loss to the Nittany Lions at home last year.
Penn State (12-3-1, 6-2-0 Big Ten) has won the last 15 Big Ten Conference titles and have the highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten and third best in the nation with 48 goals, averaging three per match. Senior Maya Hayes leads PSU with 16 goals and five assists.
After a pair of 1-0 losses at Minnesota and home against Michigan, Penn State is coming off home victories against Ohio State (4-2) and Illinois (5-0).
The Scarlet and Cream are 59-23-12 in nine seasons of action at the Nebraska Soccer Field. Nebraska is currently 15-13 in three seasons of Big Ten competition.
The 21st-ranked Huskers (12-3-1, 7-1 Big Ten) are on a three-game win streak and have won 10 of its last 11 matches for the first time since 2002. The offense has been on quite a run as the Huskers have scored in 13 straight matches, the longest streak since 2002 when NU put together 14 consecutive. The Scarlet and Cream currently have the 43rd-rated scoring offense in all of Division I. Nebraska is 10-0-1 when scoring 2 or more goals this season.
Nebraska’s 5-0 conference road record is the first perfect league road performance since 2000 and just the third such feat in program history. During the five away league matches, the Huskers outscored opponents by a 12-4 margin. The NU defense has been tough in fending off a 108-74 opponents shot advantage, while Nebraska is holding a 38-34 shots on goal edge.
Nebraska has allowed only 17 goals in 16 overall matches this season, outscoring opponents 34-17. Last year, the Huskers were outscored 38-27 in 20 total matches. The NU defense has been impressive on its way to a 16-7 advantage on the scoreboard especially considering Big Ten opponents have had 21 more corner kick opportunities (51-30).
The Huskers have been outshot in its last seven conference matches but the defensive unit has stepped up and kept the opposition at bay en route to the current 7-1 Big Ten record. The seven conferences victories are the most since 2001, when NU posted eight wins after a nine-win 2000 campaign in the Big 12. The five shutouts for the Huskers this year are the most since 2010. Last time with five clean sheets was 2008.
Three conference shutouts this season marks the first time since 2005. In Big Ten action, NU has been outshot 148-115 but lead in shots on goal by a 52-46 margin, showing the tenacity of the Nebraska defense as they frequently deny opponents of quality scoring chances.
The Huskers have set the tone early in Big Ten matches and hold a 7-1 lead in first-half scoring in the conference, with the lone goal allowed at Wisconsin on Oct. 18 at the 30-minute mark. Nebraska improves its record to 9-0-1 this season when scoring first.
Nebraksa has not allowed a goal since 23:18 into the Friday, Oct. 18th match at Minnesota which ended in double overtime. The current shutout streak stands at 176:41 and counting. The longest shutout streak this season for NU was 251:30 (9/15-9/22).
In 2013, the Huskers are one of two Big Ten schools (Penn State) to have four players (Jackson, Johnson, Conroy, Kraeutner) record five or more goals with three of those players (Conroy, Jackson and Kraeutner) recording three goals each in conference play.
Stevens Breaks Career Saves Mark
NU senior goalkeeper Emma Stevens earned her 30th career victory in net after posting six saves on Friday and Sunday to record her single-season career-best 12th win of the year.
Emma Stevens surpassed former Husker Erin Miller (239) on Sunday, Oct. 20 to become the all-time leader in saves at Nebraska. The graduate student made six stops in a 1-0 win at Minnesota and sits alone in first place with 245 career saves after her 30th career victory and eighth-career shutout.
Stevens is near the top of several all-time NU goalkeeping categories, including second in minutes played (5,518), starts (61) and game played (64), while ranking fourth in wins (30) and sixth in shutouts (8).
Stevens has amassed a 0.85 goals-against average in Big Ten action allowing seven goals in eight matches. In road league matches, Stevens boasted an impressive 0.77 GAA stopping 29 shots in five matches at a 87.9 percent clip. Overall, Stevens has already posted a single-season career-best 12 victories.
Stevens Honored by Soccer Sites
Stevens earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, Oct. 21 and becomes the first NU goalkeeper to earn a defensive weekly conference award since Tara McDonald in 2010 as a member of the Big 12 Conference. The honor is marks the fifth conference award earned by the Huskers this season.
Stevens was also recognized on TopDrawerSoccer.com’s weekly Team of the Week as well as being named CollegeSoccer360.com’s National Primetime Player of the Week.
Jackson Leading the Attack
Jordan Jackson has been heating up as she has recorded goals in four-consecutive October matches. Jackson’s 33rd career tally gives the senior solo eighth place among all-time Husker goal scorers, while her 25 assists also rank eighth in program history.
Jackson has earned a point in 10 of her last 13 matches and is third in conference matches with 14 points. On the all-time lists at Nebraska, Jackson is sixth in shots (249) and shots on goal (125) as well as 10th in points (91) and game-winning goals (8) all-time at NU.
Jackson’s five-point output marked the fifth time Jackson has amassed five points in a single match during her career. The Overland Park, Kan. native recorded three assists in the 4-0 road victory at Purdue on Oct. 11 for the second time in her career at Nebraska and is the fifth Husker to have three second-half helpers. The two-time all-conference honoree is the 17th Husker to earn at least three assists in one match.
Huskers Powerful on Defense
Nebraska’s back line of defense has stood up to the task as they have prevented opponents from capitalizing on chances and running the ball up to the forwards on attack.
Seniors Ari Romero (90.8 mpg), Maritza Hayes (88-plus in last 8) and Kylie Greischar (81.75 mpg) along with sophomore Jaylyn Odermann have keyed the NU defense with all of them playing extensive minutes as of late.