Soccer’s vigor evident in games

The Illinois soccer team accomplished something this weekend that it had not since the 2008 season.

Shayla Mutz’s game-winning goal in the 94th minute gave the Illini their first overtime victory this season and the first since the second round of the NCAA tournament in two years ago. Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield felt the victory proved something about her squad.

“I think it says this team has a lot of heart and I think it says that this team really wants to go after something this season,” she said. “They want to be in the hunt for a Big Ten title. They’re willing to fight and scrap and do whatever it takes to do that. That’s the message that they were really trying to send (Saturday).”

Saturday night’s 2-1 victory against Iowa was the third overtime game Illinois has played this season. In their previous two, the Illini had fallen 2-1 to Connecticut and tied Wisconsin 0-0.

Scoreless Read, Mykines finding other ways to contribute

After combining for six goals last season, forwards Niki Read and Marissa Mykines have yet to record a goal this season.

Both players, however, are finding ways to contribute to Illinois’ success in other important areas.

Read had an assist and eight shots against Iowa, giving her five assists and 49 shots on the season, both which lead the team. Rayfield praised her performance on Saturday night.

“Niki Read was all over the pitch (Saturday) in terms of movement and getting balls and playing balls,” she said.

Mykines recorded four shots Saturday. Her shot in the 88th minute drew the handball in the box that gave the Illini a penalty kick and allowed them to tie the score. It was the second time this season that she has drawn a penalty kick, the other coming against LSU.

Mykines is also second on the team in assists, with three, and third in shots, with 40.

Miller continues PK streak

Illinois defender Krystin Miller isn’t known for scoring goals.

But on Saturday night, the senior co-captain stepped up to take a huge penalty kick late in the game and buried it for the second time this season.

Miller’s most recent goal against Iowa came in the 88th minute and sent the game into overtime, where the Illini won 2-1. Her first penalty kick goal this season came in the 84th minute against LSU and gave Illinois a 1-0 victory.

Miller has been the Illini’s designated penalty kick taker since her junior year, and all four of her collegiate goals have come off penalty kicks. It was also the second penalty kick Miller has scored against Iowa during her career. The Hawkeyes’ past experience with Miller may have made Saturday’s goal more challenging, as the Iowa bench was calling out where Miller was going to place it before she shot.

“I think the goalkeeper even shifted to that side,” Rayfield said. “It almost doesn’t matter where she hits it because she hits a ball so hard that even if you know where it’s going its tough to get there that quickly.”