Illinois beats Dayton 1-0 on road after intensely matched first half

By Kyle Betts

The Illinois men’s soccer club was out to prove itself Saturday as they traveled to Ohio to take on the University of Dayton.

The men made a statement by defeating a higher-ranked Dayton team 1-0 on the road and proving to themselves that they could compete with the best soccer clubs in the nation.

“We proved that we could play with anyone,” senior Dan Brown said. “It was a real important game for us because Dayton was ranked higher than us and it affects our national and regional standings.”

The first half was intensely even matched, sending both teams in to halftime with no score. Illinois came out with the same intensity in the second half and Dayton couldn’t keep up, leading to a goal from sophomore Mark Baruch.

“Dayton was a fast and physical team. Despite all that, we were still able to score,” said Rickie Partyka, senior captain and coach.

Later in the half, Illinois was charged with a red card and had to play the rest of the game a man down.

“Once we got that red card everyone started to play more intensely,” Brown said.

With twenty minutes left in the game, the Illini defense, led by junior sweeper TJ King, stepped up their play and shut down Dayton’s offense. Dayton was held to only two shots on goal to complete the shutout.

“We were staunch defensively all game,” Brown said. “TJ did a great job of organizing our defense,”

While the defense played well, Partyka said he believes the offense can still improve to help create more shots on goal.

“Our offense needs to be able to play through the midfield,” Partyka said. “If we can control the ball more centrally then we will probably have more scoring success.”

The victory over Dayton was a step in the right direction for the Illini, who are looking to make a run at regionals as the season nears its end.

“It was a great team-building weekend,” Partyka said. “We worked extremely hard.”

Illinois’ last regular season game will be Saturday, Oct. 21, in Champaign against Northwestern and Michigan State.