Eastern Illinois (2-0-3) vs. Northern Illinois (1-0-2)
Sunday, September 4
1 p.m. at Charleston, Ill. (Lakeside Field)
Watch on ESPN+ | Live Stats
ON-TAP: Eastern Illinois picked up its first road win since October of 2018 as the Panthers beat Illinois State 3-1 on Thursday night. EIU improved to 2-0-3 on the season as they remained the lone unbeaten team in the OVC this season. The Panthers surrendered their first goal of the season with Illinois State scoring in the 74th minute. Daniela Bermeo has allowed only one goal this season and ranks 12th in the NCAA in goals against average. Northern Illinois enters at 1-0-2 on the season. NIU beat former OVC member Eastern Kentucky and has a pair of draws against two of the OVC’s three new schools in Lindenwood and Southern Indiana.
LITTLE SCORES AGAIN: Jenna Little scored again for the Panthers as she found the back of the net for the Panthers third goal of the match at Illinois State. Little leads the Panthers with three goals this season after she had a brace in the 2-0 win over Purdue Fort Wayne in the opening week of the season. During the exhibition season Little scored two goals with one each against Illinois Springfield and IUPUI. She is currently 45th in the NCAA in goals scored and first in the OVC.
SECOND BEST START IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Eastern Illinois is off to the second best start to a season in program history as the Panthers are unbeaten through their first five games of the season. The best start to a year was the 1996 season when EIU opened 9-0 as they finished that season with a 16-4 record including a 4-1 record playing in the Missouri Valley Conference. Already this season, EIU has set a school record for consecutive shutouts with four to open the season.
BERMEO NAMED OVC GOALKEEPER OF THE WEEK: Daniela Bermeo was named the OVC Goalkeeper of the Week for a second straight week. Bermeo had two more clean sheets last week as EIU played to a pair of scoreless draws against Indiana State and UIC with both matches on the road. The four straight shutouts are a program record. Bermeo stopped both Sycamore shots on goal with EIU’s defensive backline not allowing a second half shot on goal. On Sunday she was up to the task in net stopping eight shots on goal. The Panthers played the final four minutes of the contest with a player down due to a red card.
PAXTON NAMED OVC DEFENDER OF THE WEEK: Freshman Zoe Paxton was named the OVC Defender of the Week after the Panthers posted a pair of shutouts on the road at Indiana State and UIC. Paxton helped shore up the Panthers defensive backline as they posted back-to-back shutouts extending the season opening shutout streak to a program record four straight. She played 71 of 90 minutes on Thursday at Indiana State as EIU did not allow a second half shot on goal in the 0-0 draw. On Sunday in the 0-0 tie at UIC she was one of two field players to play all 90 minutes. EIU’s defense helped not allow a goal and played the final four minutes of the match a player down due to a red card. Paxton is the second straight EIU player to win OVC Defender of the Week honors Sarah Hagg who won after the opening weekend.
LITTLE WITH A BRACE IN EIU WIN: Jenna Little scored both of Eastern Illinois goals in EIU’s August 21, 2-0 win over Purdue Fort Wayne. Little had one goal during the 2021 season against Morehead State and scored two goals during exhibition play. Last season EIU had two players Nicoletta Anucci (against Illinois Springfield) and Zenaya Barnes (against Murray State) scored two goals in a match.
OVC PLAYERS TO WATCH: Amanda DaSilva was named the Eastern Illinois player to watch in the OVC this season. A veteran player, DaSilva will slide to the Panthers back line this season after starting 16 of 17 contests last season. She was one of four field players to log more than 1,200 minutes on the pitch last season.
RETURNING ALL-OVC: Eastern Illinois returns two All-Ohio Valley Conference performers from last season Zenaya Barnes and Sarah Hagg. Barnes was a second team All-OVC selection at forward. Hagg was a second team All-OVC selection at defender while also earning All-OVC Newcomer honors.
LIFT FOR LIFE: Eastern Illinois women’s soccer once again took part in the Lift for Life event which raises money in the fight against Rare Diseases. Kenzie Balcerak and Jenna Little have spearheaded the women’s soccer participation in this event which was originally done by the EIU football team. The annual fundraiser is done in conjunction with Uplifting Athletes took place on Aug. 19.
RULE CHANGE: The NCAA will no longer have overtime sessions during regular season play. Last season EIU had three overtime contests picking up two draws while losing a third game in the extra session. The Panthers have played three or more overtime matches in each of the last four seasons with six of those contests resulting in a win or loss for EIU.
SERIES HISTORY: This will be the eighth meeting on the pitch between Eastern Illinois and Northern Illinois. NIU has won three straight in the series holding a 1-5-1 all-time series lead. The last meeting was in 2018. EIU’s win in the series came during the 1996 season.
NEXT UP: After playing two matches each of the first three weeks of the season, Eastern Illinois will only play one match next week when the Panthers travel to Central Michigan on Sunday. The Chippewas will be the second straight Mid-American Conference opponent for EIU after the Panthers host Northern Illinois on Sunday.
HEAD COACH: Jake Plant enters his fifth season as the head coach of the Eastern Illinois women’s soccer team. A 2014 EIU alumnus and former member of the Panthers men’s soccer program, Plant was the assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s program for two years with one additional season as an assistant for the men’s program before being named EIU women’s head coach in 2018. Plant led EIU to a 6-8-6 record in his first season including a 4-3-3 record in OVC play. In 2019, he once again took EIU to the OVC Tournament winning a first-round match. He enters his fifth season with a record of 16-36-13 with a 10-20-8 record in OVC matches having made the OVC Tournament in three of four seasons. He is a native of Birmingham, England. He is assisted by Dirk Bennett.