Illinois soccer falls to Rutgers in final match of season

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James Hoeck

Defender Aleah Treiterer guards Rutgers player Oct. 23. The Illini fell 3-0 to the undefeated team for their final game of the season.

By Angelle Cortes, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois’ last game of the season ended with Rutgers winning 3-0 at Demirjian Park. 

“Rutgers is undefeated in the Big Ten for a reason,” said head coach Janet Rayfield. “I mean it’s a talented group with a lot of veteran leadership. I thought there were moments when we did the things we wanted to do where our team defending gave them some problems, but again I don’t think we’re at a place where we could sustain that, but I think it showed us comments of what we can do and what we need to work on in the future.”  

Going into the match, the Illini were coming off a 3-1 loss while the Scarlet Knights had just finished their ninth straight win in the Big Ten. 

The Scarlet Knights were looking for their 10th win to make the unbeaten run in the Big Ten, and they did just that.   

Missing from the Nebraska match was Hope Breslin due to being on a concussion protocol. Breslin was back and in the line up but wasn’t fully ready to play. Within the first seconds of the game she subbed out and saw her last minutes on the field at Illinois. 

From then, Rutgers dominated the whole match pressuring the Illinois backline. 

Top players like Amirah Ali, Frankie Tagliaferri and Riley Tiernan put relentless shots at Julia Cili, but they weren’t too troubling for Cili. 

By 20th minute, the Illini offense kicked it into gear and were able to hold the Scarlet Knight’s backline to their defense third. 

Sydney Stephens, Maggie Hillman and Makena Silber were able to get shots off, but they just couldn’t get it on frame to test the keeper. 

The Illini’s best opportunity came in their offensive spurt when Silber had a chance right in front of goal within a sea of red jerseys, but the ball hit off the crossbar. 

Rutgers scored the first goal in the 36th minute with Allison Lowery’s low, driven shot that beat Cili at her left post. 

In the second half, the Scarlet Knights continued to dominate. 

By the 55th minute, Rutgers were up by two goals. Erin McKeown made a sliding save but got the ball stuck under her. Ali picked right out of her legs and poked it in for her first goal of the game. 

Five minutes later, Ali scored once again. A foul from Illinois by Rutger’s 18-yard box took just three players to get it behind the net. 

Meagan McClelland took the freekick, Sam Kroeger flicked a header to Ali and she was on her way to goal passing Naomi Jackson, who was way out her box, scoring with an open net.

Illinois said farewell to its seniors, and Rayfield will look ahead for the spring season to get back to work. 

“I’m looking forward to technically and physically getting this team to a place they can be,” Rayfield said. “The spring has always been one of my favorite times because it is the play development part of the cycle.”  

 

@AngelleCortes

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