Soccer’s turnaround results in poll recognition

Soccers turnaround results in poll recognition

By ME Online

For Illinois women’s soccer, .500 never looked so good.

After starting the season off 1-3-0, the Illini have climbed back to 3-3-0 thanks to an impressive weekend on their home turf. A 4-0 victory over Syracuse (1-4-1) and 1-0 win against the then No. 13 Auburn Tigers (5-1-0), pushed Illinois back into the rankings, where they currently reside in 18th place overall.

This weekend the Illini will face their fifth ranked opponent of the season when they play the 12th ranked Utah Utes (4-2-0) at home Sunday. But first, they will travel to play St. Louis (3-1-2) on Thursday. Rayfield said her players need to keep improving to continue and build on their recent success.

“The goals are to get better everyday, and to be better in November than we were in August,” Rayfield said. “We’ve already made huge steps down that path.”

“And then to compete every day knowing that we can compete with anybody in the country, if we do that, then the outcomes we think are possible will become probable,” Rayfield continued.

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Led by sophomore Emily Zurrer, the Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week, and junior Mary Therese McDonnell, the Illini Tournament Defensive MVP, the defense posted two shutouts last weekend allowing no shots on goal against Auburn.

“We’re definitely back on track,” McDonnell said. “We started off the season struggling and let in some goals, but we’ve had some time to figure things out. We need to stay organized this weekend and we should do alright.”

Senior captain Paula Faherty said that despite the early season struggles, this team is ready to impress the nation.

With four freshmen getting regular playing time, the Illini are a relatively young squad. Faherty doesn’t see that as a problem of inexperience.

“We’re still a young team and everyone’s just now coming together,” Faherty clarified. “We didn’t have the results we wanted at the beginning of the season even though we played good soccer.”

“All the little pieces are finally coming together, and we saw that last weekend,” Faherty said.