Club soccer finishes season with win

By Chris Cook

The Illinois men’s club soccer team completed their regular season with an 8-0 blowout victory over Ball State on Saturday in Loyola, Chicago.

The win clinched Illinois the number one seed in the power rankings, which guarantees a bid for the National Championship in Alabama in November.

Junior forward Dave Brown led the team with two goals, including an improbable goal early to set the tone for the rest of the game. He got the ball in traffic and somehow chipped it up to himself before drilling it into the upper left corner.

“It was an important first goal by Dave,” said player/coach Dan Malloy. “It’s important to get the early lead and open the floodgates. We didn’t want to come out flat and lower the game to their standard.”

Illinois cruised the rest of the game and was rarely threatened.

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    “In a game like this we control the ball,” said sophomore keeper Brian Summerville. “Most of the time I was in a trance.”

    Sophomore defender Adam Biernacki provided another highlight on a well-placed direct free-kick. He maneuvered the ball around the wall and low into the corner of the goal.

    Senior midfielder Kyle Ledbetter, senior midfielder Garret Slemmons, sophomore midfielder T.J. King, senior midfielder Tunji Yusuf and junior forward Ahmed Yusuf had one goal apiece.

    The team also had a scheduled game against Loyola on Sunday, but it was cancelled due to a timetable mix-up.

    Illinois has achieved their second straight undefeated season with 17 wins and a tie. Moreover, the win this weekend gave the team a perfect 12-0-0 record in conference play.

    “It’s the first time we’ve won all of our conference games,” Malloy said. “It’s a new accomplishment for the team that we’re proud of.”

    Illinois will now start preparing for the upcoming tournaments -Nationals and Regionals in Indiana next weekend.

    “It feels good to be done with the season,” senior midfielder Rickie Partyka said. “But now we’re going to have to step it up. We have to be able to play the amount of games that are thrown at us in the tournaments.”

    With the number one seed in the power rankings, Malloy and Partyka said Regionals would be more a preparation for Nationals than anything else, but that was not to say the team would not shoot for the title.

    “I think right now our focus is on Nationals,” Partyka said. “But our attitude is always to come out and win no matter where we play.”

    Summerville pointed out the attitude as a key to the team’s success in the future.

    “We know we are capable of beating any team,” he said. “We cannot think in any game that we don’t deserve to win or that we haven’t worked hard enough.”

    Partyka was on the same page.

    “When I’m on the field I feel like we can’t lose and I think a lot of the guys have the same attitude,” he said. “It comes form the confidence we have in each other.”