Seminoles eliminate Illini in NCAA tournament

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

After overcoming Florida on Friday night 1-0 in overtime, the Illini lost to the Florida State Seminoles 2-1 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Gainesville, Fla.

The Seminoles were the second seed in the Illini’s bracket and showed that they were worthy of that seeding by taking the game to the Illini immediately.

The Illini could not get into its rhythm against Florida State as the Seminoles mounted a lot of pressure against the Illini in the first half.

The Seminoles had collected five shots before the Illini could manage to get one.

Florida State managed to make its pressure count in the 30th minute as forward Sel Kuralay received a pass 30 yards from the goal. The Illini were not able to close out in time and she let a 30-yard shot go. It beat senior goalie Rachel Frank high and the Seminoles had a 1-0 lead.

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“She dropped in midfield and we could not close her out in time,” said Illini head coach Janet Rayfield.

The Illini had a chance to score in the 43rd minute as freshman defender Emily Zurrer managed to get ahead to a free kick by junior forward Jessica Bayne, but Zurrer headed it too close to Seminoles’ goalie Ali Mims, and she was able to keep it out.

The Seminoles outshot the Illini 13-4 in the first half, but the Illini were only down by one goal.

“They overwhelmed us with their speed of play in the midfield,” Rayfield said. “We haven’t played a midfield with the technical ability like Florida State, and it took us a half to adjust to them.”

The Seminoles went up by two goals in the 64th minute on a goal by forward India Trotter.

Trotter had received a pass and tried to flick the ball into the path of Kuralay, but it deflected off of senior defender Kelly Campbell. Trotter was the recipient of the deflection as she was one-on-one with Frank. Trotter slotted the ball past Frank to give the Seminoles a 2-0 lead.

The Illini got back into the game in the 76th minute as sophomore forward Ella Masar received a through-ball from senior midfielder Laura Redmond and Masar shot the ball past Mims for her third goal of the season.

“We played a lot better in the second half – it just wasn’t enough,” Rayfield said.

The Illini started to push players forward in an attempt to score the tying goal, but their pressure was not enough to get them a goal, and the Illini season came to an end.

“We came down here in an unfamiliar environment and were able to beat the home team (Florida), but one of the lessons we have to learn is to be focused at the beginning of the season,” Rayfield said. “A couple of more wins in the regular season, we probably wouldn’t have had to play a team like Florida State so early.”