Illinois soccer officially opens Demirjian Park, set to host Big Ten wild card weekend


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois soccer team officially opened Demirjian Park this week and the team is wasting no time putting its $18 million facility to good use, hosting a Big Ten tournament wild card weekend quad. The Illini (6-4-1) welcome in Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota for the four-team event, with Illinois taking on Iowa Thursday night at 7 p.m.

“This team is confident, and I think more importantly they’re really proud of who they’ve become and the resilience they’ve shown in this challenging year and even through some of the challenging games,” Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said. “I tell them all the time, confidence isn’t knowing I’m going to be great, it’s knowing that I can perseverance whatever’s thrown at me and I can fight to the end. I truly think that’s the mentality our team has right now.”

Nebraska will face Minnesota on Thursday as well, with the winners facing off Sunday for a spot in the four team B1G Tournament next week. All 14 conference teams are competing in the single-elimination Big Ten Regional Weekend on April 8 and 11 at four campus sites. The winning team at each of the four regional locations will advance to the four-team Big Ten Tournament, to be played on the campus of the highest-remaining seed following the Regional Weekend. The Big Ten Tournament semifinals are set for April 15, with the tournament championship game scheduled for April 18. Game times and television coverage for all Big Ten postseason women’s soccer games will be announced at a later date.

Following the Regional Weekend, the April 15 semifinals will be reseeded with the highest remaining seed playing host to the lowest remaining seed, while the second-highest remaining seed faces the second-lowest seed in the other semifinal. The winners of those games will meet for the Big Ten Tournament title on April 18, with the champion receiving the conference’s automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament.

Demirjian Park features two new soccer fields, one for competition and one for practice, and a renovation of the existing track and field complex. The project’s centerpiece is Demirjian Park Stadium, located between the new soccer fields and the renovated track. The stadium directly benefits more than 25 percent of the Fighting Illini student-athlete population by housing team facilities for women’s soccer, men’s track and field, and women’s track and field. State-of-the-art amenities include locker rooms, video and meeting rooms, lounge and study spaces, sports medicine and nutrition facilities, and coaches’ offices. It also contains spaces for visiting teams and officials.

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