Soccer has winless weekend

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini had its worst weekend of the year, and they came back to Champaign in third place in the Big Ten after losing 3-1 at No. 2 Penn State on Friday night and then dropping a 2-1 game Sunday afternoon at Minnesota.

Penn State (14-0, 6-0 Big Ten), scored its first goal against the Illini in the 13th minute when senior forward Carmelina Moscato took a pass from sophomore midfielder Aubrey Aden-Buie and beat sophomore goalie Lindsey Carstens down low for her third goal of the season.

The Illini went down another goal in the 34th minute when senior forward Tiffany Weimer was brought down in the penalty box. Weimer then converted the spot-kick for her conference leading 19th goal of the season. Weimer has now scored in 13 straight games.

“There was a ball served into the box and there was some incidental contact that she made the most of,” said Illini head coach Janet Rayfield.

Things started looking up for the Illini after halftime when in the 67th minute, junior forward Jessica Bayne scored her fourth goal of the season after receiving a pass from senior forward Eva Strickland. Bayne beat Nittany Lions senior goalie Erin McLeod with a low shot to the far post.

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The Illini almost tied the game a few minutes later when sophomore forward Ella Masar took a shot that was knocked away by McLeod, but instead of rolling away from the goalie, the ball stopped dead in the mud in front of the goal.

That unfortunate break would prove costly, as Weimer scored her second goal of the game in the 77th minute to put the game out of reach.

“We came out and played tentative,” Rayfield said. “We knew that if we made a mistake they would make us pay and it affected the way we played.”

Things did not get any better on Sunday for the Illini, they lost 2-1 after being up 1-0 at halftime.

Minnesota (8-4-2, 5-1 Big Ten) extended its winning streak to five and took sole possession of second place in the Big Ten with the win.

“I think this game was us not putting two halves together and also not putting team away when we have them on their heels,” Rayfield said.

The Illini started off brightly with senior forward Natasha Karniski receiving a pass from freshman midfielder Marti Dejarlais. With Minnesota goalie Molly Schneider coming off her line, Karniski beat her to the ball and scored into an empty net for her fourth goal of the year in the third minute.

The Illini outshot the Gophers 11-4 in the first half, but were unable to add to their lead before halftime. Their inability to score would prove costly in the 47th minute.

Freshman forward Nikki Jensen scored her first career goal from five yards after receiving a pass from fellow freshman midfielder Clare Grimwood.

“That goal shocked us and we made some mistakes after that and they scored their second goal,” Rayfield said.

In the same minute, freshman forward Lindsey Schwartz hit a shot from outside the penalty area that went off the inside of the post and over the line to give the Gophers the 2-1 lead as they were able to hold on and give the Illini back to back losses for the first time this season.

“This is a pivotal moment for us,” Rayfield said. “We have to find the competitiveness and the mentality to go to along with our talent and we just did not have that this weekend.