Soccer loses to No. 5 Purdue

 

 

By Steve Contorno

The Illinois soccer team followed up an emotional Senior Night victory over No. 24 Indiana on Friday with a 2-1 loss at the hands of No. 5 Purdue on Sunday.

Illinois (9-5-1, 4-3-1 Big Ten) could not retain the momentum, or the offense, from its previous game.

“We came in and we were high on emotions and ready to play,” Ella Masar said. “They were having their Senior Day and were just able to win the battle.”

Purdue, (14-1-2, 6-0-1) the league’s highest scoring team, averaging nearly a 2 1/2 goals a game, just had more offense than the Illini, who are second behind Purdue in goals.

“They were in their comfort zone,” goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens said. “They’re a great team and we learned what we need to do to beat them.”

The first half was a stalemate between the two teams, which both have solid defenses to go along with the firepower on offense. Through the first 45 minutes, it seemed Illinois was on its way to its sixth straight shutout, not allowing a shot on goal. And, Illinois was outproducing Purdue, topping the Boilermakers’ shot total in the first half – as the Illini did for the entire game – by an 8-4 margin. Illinois even got the first shot on net taken by midfielder Marti Desjarlais, but Purdue goalkeeper Carianne Betts stopped what would have been Desjarlais’ third goal of the season.

Despite Illinois leading in offensive pressure at the midpoint, it was Purdue that came out firing in the second half, scoring two goals within two minutes of each other. In the 65th minute, Illinois fouled Purdue in the box, allowing the Boilermakers an easy penalty-kick goal scored by Shauna Stapleton.

Moments later, Carstens came out of the net to pressure Purdue forward Loredana Riverso, but Riverso was able to loft it over a diving Carstens to score the team’s second goal.

With five seconds left in the game, junior forward Jessica Levitt scored a goal to prevent a shutout and bring the score to 2-1.

The loss drops Illinois to three Big Ten defeats, all of which came on the road. The tough conference schedule will prepare the team for the postseason despite the unfavorable results.

“(The schedule) has put us out of our comfort zone,” Carstens said. “It’s challenged us so we can be ready for tournament time.”

With three losses in the conference now, a tie to Northwestern and only three conference games remaining, it will be tough for the Illini to take the top conference spot.

“The good thing about the Big Ten is you still have the Big Ten tournament where you can turn things around,” Masar said. “Our record isn’t where we want it to be so far, but we can redeem it in the tournament.”