Soccer suffers setback in Big Ten race, falling 2-0 at home to OSU

Soccer suffers setback in Big Ten race, falling 2-0 at home to OSU

By Steve Contorno

Two days after women’s soccer head coach Janet Rayfield said her team “played some of the prettiest soccer we’ve played all season,” Illinois wasn’t able to execute on offense and fell to Ohio State (7-5-1, 3-3), getting shut-out 2-0.

“We didn’t finish our chances,” senior forward Jessica Bayne said. “We had chances, but we didn’t put enough of them on frame. It had nothing to do with being prepared, we just didn’t finish and they did.”

No. 10-ranked Illinois (8-5-0, 4-1) took care of a struggling Minnesota team (6-6-1, 0-5) at home on Friday night in a physical game that produced four yellow cards. Illinois won 3-0 with all three goals coming in the first half.

Freshman forward Courtney Bell scored the first two goals for Illinois unassisted. Her first goal in the sixth minute came after junior forward Ella Masar sent a pass into the box where it bounced around and found the foot of Bell whose shot ricocheted off the keeper and went into the net.

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Bell’s second goal came in the 27th minute came when she beat the defender and blasted a shot from 16 yards out through the hands of the Minnesota keeper. Bayne added the final goal, her fifth on the season, in the 35th minute to seal the victory.

“We had a lot of movement which was great and people were finding their spots all over the place,” Bell said. “We were moving the ball really well and working at a quick pace.”

“I think our attack is so dangerous and we were moving the ball so well it was really a matter of who was going to get on the end of a ball inside the box and finish it,” Rayfield said.

But that attack was nowhere to be found on Sunday when Ohio State traveled to Champaign in another Big Ten showdown. With a chance to take sole possession of first place of the conference after Indiana tied Penn State on Sunday, Illinois was unable to score on the Buckeye defense and suffered their first Big Ten and home loss of the season.

“We didn’t put our shots on frame,” Rayfield said. “That’s one of the things that’s been key to our success: when we get opportunities we find the back of the net.”

“We hit the top of the net twice, we just didn’t find the back. That could have changed the game and given us some confidence,” she added.

After a stalemate in the first half produced a scoreless tie, Ohio State created opportunities in the second half and made the most of them.

Both goals for Ohio State were scored by Lara Dickenmann, her sixth and seventh on the season.

Dickenmann’s first goal came when she took a shot that was deflected off the head of junior defender Kara Gostisha and over junior goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens.

Eight minutes later, after the Illini moved a defender up to create a better offensive attack, Dickenmann took advantage of the weakened defense and scored at the top of the box on a shot to the far post.

“Down one goal with fifteen minutes left isn’t a situation we’ve put ourselves in terms of managing the game and trying to fight back,” Rayfield said.

The loss moves Illinois into second place in the Big Ten with just four games remaining. One of those games will be against Indiana who has yet to lose a Big Ten game this season. Bayne said the Big Ten is still anyone’s to take.

“Obviously this is a Big Ten loss, but we’re still in it,” Bayne said. “We need to come back after this loss and prove to everyone that we are a great Big Ten team.”

Hopefully we’ll come out against Michigan and Michigan State next weekend and show that,” she said.

“We have to be at this point with as close as the Big Ten race is going to be, we have to be good at everything for 90 minutes,” Rayfield said. “We’re going to go back and fix the little things that we’ve let slide. We need to be able to play good defense on days where we weren’t able to put the ball in the back of the net.”