Maday impresses, helps Illini break losing streak


The Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield shouts instructions to her team during the game against Loyola at the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Saturday, April 1. The Illini won 2-1.

By Miles Power-Huang, Staff writer

Although the Illinois soccer team was on a seven-game losing stint, head coach Janet Rayfield continued to preach to her team about the value of trusting the process and improving over time.

The first positive result of this approach sprouted on Sunday as Kelly Maday came face to face with Indiana goalkeeper Bethany Kopel, and did not panic. Instead, she calmly took a touch past the aggressive shot-stopper coming off her line and slotted her chance into the back of the net.

“I’ve been working on making more of (an) inside out run,” Mayday said. “I found a gap through two of their defenders and Morgan (Maroney) slit a great ball through, and I sped up and went to the outside. The goalie came out and I didn’t have a good angle so I took a touch around her.”

On a night when the Illini failed to find the back of the net for the fourth time in five games, Illinois knew it had to be more clinical up front after falling 1-0 to Purdue Sept. 28.

Sunday in Bloomington, Indiana, they did just that, converting three of their eight shots into goals, including two from senior forward Kara Marbury to go along with Maday’s finish.

Rayfield lauded her two forwards and complimented their ability to consistently create chances in the attack.

“Kara has been doing a lot of work for us defensively. On Sunday, she really made a point to stay a little bit higher to get herself involved in front of the goal, and scored two chances as a result of that,” Rayfield said. “Kelly’s been dangerous in several of our last matches. (She) had a similar situation to the goal she scored (against Indiana) Friday night against Purdue and got taken down by the goalkeeper. (She) was dangerous throughout the game.”

Maday has seen her persistence in the attack rewarded lately, as she has scored in two of the last three matches. She attributes that success to her team learning from its mistakes, and playing more attack-minded soccer.

“I think Purdue was a good battle. We had some chances that we couldn’t finish that were unlucky on our part,” Maday said.

Rayfield saw this performance as a sign of things to come, rather than a flash in the pan, and if Maday and Marbury can continue to find the back of the net, the Illini’s victory against the Hoosiers could serve as a turning point in their season.

“In the Big Ten, games are competitive. I think the Purdue game was a great example of that. They converted a chance, and we didn’t,” Rayfield said. “We really executed on a couple of different situations. We were able to put the ball in the back of the net. We scored the first one off of a restart, great execution of a set-piece and then all of a sudden (we) relax, and Kelly and Kara get a second goal, and a third goal. I think that’s what we’ve been looking for all season long.”

Rayfield felt that her team’s relaxed approach led them to play better, and that if the team can continue doing that, they may improve their results.

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