Illini fall to the Badgers in a close contest


Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Patricia George dribbles the ball down the field during the game against Illinois State at Illnois Soccer Stadium on Sunday, August 21. The Illini won 1-0.

By Miles Powers-Haung, Contributing Writer

As Wisconsin’s Dani Rhodes 87th-minute shot deflected off of Jaelyn Cunningham’s hands and into the back of the net, a performance that might have deserved a draw turned into a loss for the Illini, snapping their two-game winning streak.

Rayfield lamented the result of the game being determined by such fine margins.

“Another hard fought battle in some pretty slick conditions. It created a really physical battle tonight,” Rayfield said. “I thought our team fought hard. (We) had a great chance to score, they (got) a chance and theirs goes in and ours slides wide and that’s the difference in the game.”

Although it was the Badgers who ultimately broke through, the Illini seemed the more likely team just a few minutes prior.  With 12 minutes remaining, as Cunningham quickly corralled a corner kick, she sent a long pass to sophomore forward Kelly Maday who looked to have a fast break on goal, but was brought down by Wisconsin defender Payton Wesley, who was subsequently shown a yellow card.

Rayfield acknowledged the missed opportunity, which has happened to Maday on more than one occasion.

“That’s been the story of Kelly’s season. Every time she’s about to go to goal, people are having a hard time solving her so they take her down before she gets the chance to get behind them,” Rayfield said. “They called the yellow card, but (that) still doesn’t give us a goal-scoring chance which it looked like we might have.”

After allowing the go-ahead goal, the Illini’s chances to equalize were diminished when junior midfielder Katie Murray was shown her second yellow card, thus resulting in a red. While it made a comeback in the game far less likely, the effects of the dismissal may be felt even further as Murray will be suspended for Sunday’s tilt against Minnesota.

However, there were a few bright spots for the Illini. Junior Patricia George, who has become a fullback this season after beginning her Illini career as a forward, utilized more than a few bits of elusive footwork to create chances in Wisconsin’s defensive end.

George has embraced her new position, and feels her team is not far off from a return to winning ways.

“I got switched to outside back earlier in the season; it’s my job to get up forward as much as I can,” George said. “We need to do a better job controlling the ball. We were ball-chasing in the second half, so if we settle down next game, we should win.”

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