After 2 overtimes, Illini soccer tallies 9th win

The Illinois soccer team held a solid advantage Saturday in shots on goal. It just took 113 minutes for one to go in.

Tallying their ninth win of the season, the Illini (9-4-1, 3-2-1 Big Ten) defeated Michigan State 1-0 in East Lancing, Mich., scoring the only goal of the game in double overtime.

As halftime approached the Illini had led the Spartans in shots 10-4 and in shots on goal 6-2, though the game remained scoreless.

Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said her team did a good job creating chances, but Michigan State was tough defensively.

“They just really made it difficult for us to get a really good look at the goal,” Rayfield said. “We had quite a few chances, I thought we possessed the ball well and made them chase, but they certainly made it hard to score. Obviously it took us 110 minutes plus to find the back of the net.”

Having a main focus on starting Big Ten games with a strong defense, the Illini managed to keep Michigan State (10-4-0, 3-3-0) to a total of seven shots, with only three on target. Senior Julie Ewing said the team as a whole contributed to shutting down the dangerous duo of Olivia Stander and Laura Heyboer playing in the forward positions for the Spartans.

“Our back three did a great job and we helped them out as much as we could further up the field to give them as few opportunities to try and get the ball in there to the front two to do stuff with it, and I think when it did get in there our back three did a great job of shutting it down,” Ewing said.

After 90 minutes of play, the game remained scoreless. Before the Orange and Blue headed into overtime, Rayfield spoke to senior Marissa Mykines about adjustments that needed to be made.

“She was telling me and Jannelle (Flaws) to stay higher so we could get their backs further up since they had been stepping so much the entire game,” Mykines said. “We pulled them out and then (Vanessa DiBernardo) just placed the ball behind and (Rayfield) said, ‘Hit the line and run hard,’ and that’s what I did.”

After the advice from Rayfield, Mykines and DiBernardo were able to create the exact play Rayfield had in mind, tallying the game-winning goal in the 113th minute.

“I think they were getting a little worn down in the back, so we talked about how we needed one big break,” Mykines said. “They were playing pretty aggressive the entire game especially stepping to our forwards so basically they released me and sent me running out of the midfield, V (DiBernardo) just played the ball right to my foot and pretty much did most of the work for me and all I had to do was shoot.”

Battling into double overtime for the second time since entering Big Ten play, Rayfield said her team showed a lot of strength and determination to take away the win.

“I think it shows that we can stay in it,” Rayfield said. “Our fitness level allows us to be consistent all the way through 110 minutes if that is what it takes. I think for us we finally wear teams down and wear teams down.”

“We can get into these games a little bit sooner if we put our chances away but teams are making that difficult,” Rayfield added. “The combination of us missing a couple of good chances and them defending and fighting and us making all the right choices and them coming up with a great defensive play. It was a combination of both of those things today.”