Soccer splits weekend

Illinois forward Jessica Levitt (8) gets around Indiana defender Kristy Miller (5) at the game the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Sunday. Illinois lost 2-1. Tessa Pelias

Illinois forward Jessica Levitt (8) gets around Indiana defender Kristy Miller (5) at the game the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Sunday. Illinois lost 2-1. Tessa Pelias

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini soccer team split its two games this weekend as it defeated Illinois State 3-0 on Friday night, but lost to Indiana State 2-1 yesterday afternoon at the Illinois Soccer Stadium.

Friday night, Illinois State came in with a record of 3-1-1, but the Redbirds posed very little problems for the Illini.

The Illini first goal came from a very unlikely source in freshman centerback Emily Zurrer.

Zurrer, who is the tallest player on the team at 5-feet-11 inches tall, is a frequent target for the Illini at set pieces, as she is usually the tallest player on the field.

In the 20th minute of Friday’s game, Zurrer jumped highest on a corner kick sent in by junior forward Eva Strickland and managed to head it past the goalkeeper to give the Illini a 1-0 advantage.

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“It feels really good to score one, and hopefully there is more to come,” Zurrer said.

One minute later, the Illini extended its lead to 2-0 when freshman forward Ella Masar scored her first goal of the season.

Masar received a flick-on off the head of Zurrer on a free kick. Her first shot went off of the crossbar, but the ball rebounded back to her and she headed it into an empty net.

Zurrer almost had her second goal of the game in the 38th minute, but her header went just past the post and the Illini went into halftime with a two-goal lead.

Senior forward Kristen Karniski added the third goal eight minutes before time expired as she intercepted a pass at midfield, ran to the box with very little trouble, then pushed the ball onto her right foot. The shot took a nasty deflection off of a Redbird defender, which wrong footed Illinois State goalie Erica Goethel as she could do nothing but watch as the ball rolled over the goal line.

The Illini finished with 26 shots, 12 of them on target.

“I told them that three goals in 26 opportunities is not good enough and we need to demand more,” said Illini head coach Janet Rayfield.

On Sunday, the Illini lost 2-1 to Indiana State who came into the game 2-5 on the year.

“The frustrating part about this game was our lack of focus,” Rayfield said.

The whole game was a struggle for the Illini as the Sycamores were well organized and gave the Illini very little room to operate. There were very few chances on both sides, but the Sycamores made its second shot on goal count in the 41st minute.

Sycamore forward Lauren Podolski sent a through ball on the ground to Nichole Tiggs, who calmly shot past Illini sophomore goalie Lindsey Carstens.

“Our main goal today was to stay organized,” said Indiana State head coach Vernon Croft.

The Illini piled on the pressure in the second half as its sense of urgency increased as the time was ticking away.

The Sycamores were defending with all 11 players and cleared its lines constantly until the 83rd minute.

Freshman midfielder Marti Desjarlais took advantage of a deflection and headed the ball into an empty net.

“I think that after we scored and we thought now we can win the game,” Rayfield said.

The Illini joy was short lived.

Two minutes later, Podolski took advantage of the lack of focus by the Illini defense as they let a goal kick get through. Podolski ran onto the ball, rounded Carstens and shot into an empty net.

“We’ve had a horrible start to the season and it’s great because we have never beaten a nationally ranked program, but I am hoping it is not the biggest thing this season,” Croft said.