Illini travel to California for first time since 2012


Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois midfielder Arianna Veland (23) heads the ball during the game against Indiana at the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. The Illini won 1-0 in double overtime.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

After starting their season 2-0-0, the Illinois soccer team played in California over the weekend.

Friday, the team defeated Pepperdine, 3-2, and 3-2 Sunday. Both teams are unfamiliar opponents for the Illini heading into the weekend, Illinois has played each team once before in program history.

Before leaving for California, Illinois faced off against Loyola-Chicago and Dayton, with final scores of 3-1 and 3-2, respectively in Champaign. Leading the team in goals was junior midfielder Hope Breslin, who has two goals for the season. On Sunday, freshman midfielder Eileen Murphy scored her first goal for Illinois and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Tuesday.

Illinois faced tougher competition against Pepperdine, who is currently ranked No. 44 in the NCAA Women’s Soccer RPI, and No. 22 in the United Soccer Coaches poll. The Illini are ranked No. 50 in the NCAA Women’s Soccer RPI.

Illinois has only played Pepperdine once prior to Friday’s match. In 2011, the Illini lost, 2-0, to the then-No. 13 Waves.

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Sunday, the Illini face off against the San Francisco Dons. The Dons are ranked No. 81 in the NCAA Women’s Soccer RPI. The Illini last played San Francisco in 2005 in Stanford, California, and the teams have only faced off once. Illinois won, 2-0.

Illinois hasn’t played in the state of California since 2012, defeating UCSB and losing to UCLA while there.

Head coach Janet Rayfield said she hopes the team uses the trip to learn about how to play soccer collegiately away from Champaign.

“These non-conference trips and opponents are important in helping our players develop travel strategies, learn to adapt and play against different styles and compete, regardless of the environment,” Rayfield said. “Those skills are important if you want to be successful in November and December.”

On Friday, Illinois had a challenging match against Pepperdine. The Waves got off to a faster start than the Illini, scoring at 25:45, but senior midfielder Arianna Veland scored her second goal of the season at 41:27.

The second half was much like the first as Pepperdine scored at 50:43, but redshirt freshman Kendra Pasquale put one in the net for Illinois at 60:10. However, Illinois wasn’t done scoring for the night.

In the closing minutes of the game, at 81:18, junior midfielder Maggie Hillman scored her second goal of the season to give the Illini a 3-2 win over the Waves.

“This was a gritty win for us today,” Rayfield said, per “To be down twice and battle back on the road against a very talented Pepperdine team takes relentless effort, and we had that today. We will still learn a lot from this game and work to be better again on Sunday. We’re still a work in progress and are focusing on the daily process of getting better.”

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