Soccer has successful Labor Day weekend

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini overcame its rough start to the season last weekend by defeating No. 17 Nebraska 1-0 on Friday night, and then took care of Western Illinois 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.

On Friday, Illinois and Nebraska came out and took the game to each other, which contributed to a fast-paced game.

The Illini had the better of the play against Nebraska in the first half, as freshman forward Ella Masar kept giving Nebraska fits down the left side.

“I just wanted to come out and prove myself,” Masar said. “The right back was a little slower and weaker, so coach just told me to run her into the ground.”

Cornhusker defender Abby Penas had to make a few last ditch tackles to keep Masar from putting dangerous crosses into the box.

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“She had a great game, she was a dangerous threat tonight,” said Illini head coach Janet Rayfield.

Nebraska had a few chances of their own as freshman defender Emily Zurrer passed the ball back to sophomore goalie Lindsey Carstens, whose clearance was blocked, but the ball went outside of the box to end the danger.

In the second half, Masar continued to give the Nebraska backline problems, but this time from the right side. One of her runs caused Nebraska defender Ali Lokanc problems and she promptly brought her down to draw a yellow card.

Masar’s hard work paid off for the Illini in the 65th minute as she put in a dangerous cross which just eluded Nebraska goalie Jamie Klages, leaving senior forward Natasha Karniski with the opportunity to put it in off of Klages.

“I saw her hit a great ball and it came just across the goal, and I just got there,” Karniski said.

The Illini did have to hold on to the lead a couple of times, but Carstens came up with a couple of big saves to keep the Illini on top.

“It’s nice to get the first one under our belt,” Rayfield said.

On Sunday, the Illini beat Western Illinois comfortably 3-0, despite an injury to Masar.

She started the game on the right side, but she had to be replaced in the 17th minute with a hamstring injury.

Western Illinois came out and played with only one forward and played the other 10 players back behind the ball trying to slow the game down.

The Illini on the other hand tried to impose its quicker style of play on the game, but the Westernwinds were able to contain the Illini for most of the first half.

Senior midfielder Laura Redmond was able to break the deadlock in the 20th minute as she was able to chip the ball over Westerwinds’ goalie Loes Guertes’ head from 25 yards.

Despite being down one goal, Western Illinois continued to sit back and was content being down 1-0 at halftime.

“The first half was very disappointing, we kept playing at their pace instead of ours,” Rayfield said.

The Illini were able to impose its style on Western Illinois in the second half and add to its halftime advantage.

Karniski gave the Illini a 2-0 lead in the 54th minute when she tapped in from close range on a cross by junior forward Jessica Bayne.

Three minutes later, senior defender Kristin Karniski hit the crossbar with a free kick from 25 yards out.

The Illini added a third goal three minutes from time as freshman midfielder Marti Desjarlais scored off a cross from freshman forward Jessica Levitt.

“I think Illinois soccer came out this weekend, and we’ve gotten into our groove,” Redmond said.