Illinois, Illinois State look to ride momentum ahead of in-state showdown


Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Members of the Illinois soccer team embrace during the game against Mizzou Aug. 19 where they won 4-0. The Illini hope to continue their momentum against Illinois State University on Sunday

By Angelle Cortes, Assistant Sports Editor

Following a big 4-0 against Mizzou, Illinois (1-0-0) will look to continue its momentum against Illinois State University (1-0-0) on Sunday in an in-state showdown in Normal. 

Like the Illini, the Redbirds also picked up a 4-0 win on the road against Eastern Michigan Thursday afternoon. 

Natalie Vaughn-Low scored two in the seventh and 85th minutes, with two goals separated by 1:49 scored by Sarah Lafayette and Riley O’Brien rounding out the score line. 

As for the Illini, their 4-0 win saw freshmen Abby Lynch and Maeve Jones bring the energy off the bench. Both scored in their debuts in an Illinois uniform, scoring the first and fourth goals, respectively, of the game to seal the win. 

Julia Cili also got her first bout of collegiate minutes, stepping into the gloves of Sami Sample, playing nearly 90 minutes and notching four saves. 

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Looking at the history with the Redbirds, the Illini lead the series 10-4-2 and 8-2-2 under Rayfield’s 20-year reign as the head coach. 

The last time the two met was in 2019, and Illinois won 3-2 with current players Makena Silber and Hope Breslin being goalscorers in that match. 

Looking at the lineup against Mizzou, there wasn’t much of a change as Illinois retained nearly all of its starters. New to the starting line up was Summer Garrison at right back and walk-on Mackenzie Schuler at goalkeeper. 

Schuler is listed on the roster as a midfielder, but she has been in as the third-string goalkeeper against Mizzou and both exhibition matches. While it does look like a mistake, head coach Janet Rayfield has her reasons for this decision being that she has fitness standards to earn the starting spot. 

For the foreseeable future until both Cili and Naomi Jackson have met that standard, we will be seeing Schuler in for several minutes before being quickly subbed out. 

So far from what we’ve seen from Illinois is that there is energy and hunger in the way it is playing. Subs like Jones, Lynch and newcomer from Georgia Sydney Stephens add just the right amount of firepower needed to supplement the veterans they’re coming on for: Silber, Breslin and Maggie Hillman. 

As for Kendra Pasquale, she is continuing where she left off and using her speed and strength — plus a hook of a left foot — to be a threat to the opponent’s backlines.

Her goal against Mizzou was nearly reminiscent of one of her two goals against Iowa during the regular season in the spring minus placing the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs. 

The match against Illinois State will be at Adelaide Street Field in Normal on Sunday starting at 6 p.m and will be live streamed on ESPN+ with live stats updated here



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