Illini Wrap Up Weekend With 3-2 Victory over Iowa

<b>CHAMPAIGN, IL ­</b> The Fighting Illini women's soccer team posted a two-game sweep of Minnesota and Iowa in their first weekend at home, with a 3-2 win over Iowa (0-8-2) Sunday at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. Senior forward Tara Hurless led the Illini charge against the Hawkeyes with one goal and two assists on the day, while Jessica Bayne contributed the game-winning goal as the Illini move to 10-2 on the season and 4-1 in conference play.

Defensively, the Illini were not as sharp as Friday night against Minnesota, but the Illini frontrunners were able to get the best of Iowa's defensive effort and finish on key scoring opportunities for the win.

"Offensively today I thought we played pretty good," said head coach Janet Rayfield. "Defensively, we were not near as sharp as we need to be to accomplish what type of goals we have in both the Big Ten and the rest of the season. We have to be sharper than that defensively. Maybe our offensive focus on finishing goals the past few days has taken away focus from our defense. It still has to be something we bring to the table everyday, because we know we're better than that defensively."

The Illini were able to get on the board first at the 22:20 mark when Hurless got control of a serve from junior midfielder Paula Faherty five yards outside the box to beat Hawkeye goalkeeper Britta Vogele for the score. The goal was Hurless' seventh of the season and Faherty's first assist this year. Five minutes later, Iowa answered back when forward Danielle Oswald tallied her first of two assists today, finding Lindsay Phillips open for a shot, who beat Illini goalkeeper Leisha Alcia to get the Hawkeyes on the board.

Prior to halftime, the Illini still had work to do, with freshman Ella Masar tallying her third goal of the season at the 37:05 mark off a service from Hurless. Masar knocked the goal in from ten yards out, giving Illinois the advantage entering halftime.

Like Friday evening, Bayne got the Illini going in the second half, scoring the first goal in the final period. In the 74th minute, Hurless was able shake an Iowa defender in the left corner and serve a timely cross to Bayne who was open five yards out on the right side, knocking the ball in for the game-winner.

The rhythm of the Illini frontrunners was apparent this weekend as the Illini forwards combined for all seven goals recorded, the highest back-to-back game goal total recorded this season. On the other hand, the Illini gave up two goals, the last coming in the closing minutes of the match, which is the highest given up in a single game by the Illini this season.

"I think we fell asleep defensively and that is pretty unacceptable," Rayfield commented. "We have to be able to have 90 minutes of focus. We made some changes, but that can't change our focus. Our bench players have to maintain the level of intensity. Our focus is players being able to come off the bench and get into a battle defensively. We can't give up goals like that in the last five minutes of the game no matter what the score is."

Statistically, the Illini continue to dominate their opponents in corner kicks, posting a 7-0 advantage this afternoon over the Hawkeyes. Illinois also out-shot Iowa 28-7.

Up Next: The Illini are on the road next weekend, facing two ranked opponents in No. 5 Penn State Friday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m., followed by No. 21 Ohio State Sunday, Oct. 10 at 11 a.m.
Story courtesy the University of Illinois


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