The NSC Minnesota Stars, who have clinched a spot in USSF Division 2 Pro League playoffs, will close out their regular season on Friday at Tampa Bay.

The Stars are in seventh place in the eight-team playoff race but could finish as high as sixth.

The Stars, who have won three consecutive matches, are guaranteed a home match during the first round of the playoffs but will not know the exact date for the match until the regular season concludes Oct. 3.

The Stars are guaranteed to be a lower seed, meaning they will have second choice of what date to host a game in the two-match quarterfinal series. Oct. 6 or 7 are most likely, but the weekend of Oct. 9 is also a possibility.

The Stars have won two of the three matches against Tampa Bay this season. Tampa Bay, which has two regular-season matches remaining, has been eliminated from playoff contention.

U soccer team ties Hawkeyes

The Gophers and Iowa kicked off the Big Ten women's soccer schedule by playing to a 1-1 overtime tie Thursday in Iowa City.

Shari Eckstrom's goal in the 31st minute gave the Gophers (8-1-2 overall) a 1-0 lead. The goal was the fifth of the season for Eckstrom.

The Hawkeyes (7-2-1) tied the match on a goal by Alex Melin in the 69th minute.

The Gophers will play host to Illinois on Sunday.

U volleyball to open Big Ten play

The Gophers volleyball team will open the Big Ten portion of its schedule on Friday at Michigan State.

The Gophers, ranked No. 14 in the nation, bring a 10-2 record into the match. The Spartans are 8-3.

The Gophers are led by sophomore Tabi Love, who has 166 kills, and freshman Ashley Wittman, who has 150 kills.

Last year, the Gophers defeated the Spartans twice, winning in five sets each time. In the match in East Lansing, the Gophers rallied from a 2-0 deficit.

The Gophers will play at No. 22 Michigan on Saturday. Michigan has an 11-1 record.

The Gophers and Michigan split two matches last year -- the Gophers winning 3-1 in Minneapolis and the Wolverines winning 3-0 in Ann Arbor.