Illinois soccer shines against Toledo during senior day showdown

Defender+Kendra+Pasquale+runs+to+intercept+the+ball+from+Rutgers+on+Oct.+23.+Pasquale+pulled+a+performance+leading+to+a+2-0+victory+for+the+Illini+with+the+support+of+her+team%2C+fans%2C+and+family+during+the+senior+day+match+on+Sunday.

James Hoeck

Defender Kendra Pasquale runs to intercept the ball from Rutgers on Oct. 23. Pasquale pulled a performance leading to a 2-0 victory for the Illini with the support of her team, fans, and family during the senior day match on Sunday.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois soccer dominated Toledo at Demirjian Park on Sunday in what ended up being a glorious senior day for seven players. The Illini never looked to be in any real trouble during the match and celebrated the senior players with a strong victory.

“I told (the senior players) they each have a unique quality that they’ve given to us,” said head coach Janet Rayfield. “And collectively, the most important thing is they’re a really good group of soccer players, but they’re really great humans. They’re writing this last chapter of their soccer careers, but I think what’s gonna be exciting is the chapters they’re going to write after this when they really go out and really make a difference in the world.”

The senior day ceremony took place before the match and saw midfielder Eileen Murphy, assistant director of soccer operations and former forward Peyton Willie, forward Ashley Prell, defender Aleah Treiterer, defender Kendra Pasquale, midfielder Lilian Lucas and forward Summer Garrison all celebrated for their contributions to the program. Toledo’s senior players were also recognized. Shortly afterward, the game kicked off.

Illinois got going early and nearly scored in the seventh minute when a strong cross by redshirt senior defender Ashley Cathro was headed just wide by sophomore forward Maeve Jones. Illinois 0-0 Toledo.

Just 12 minutes later, the Illini would open the scoring after another cross into the box by Cathro. On the receiving end this time was freshman forward Sarah Foley, who finished with a well-placed header. The goal was the first collegiate goal for Foley, who had just been substituted into the match mere seconds earlier. Illinois 1-0 Toledo.

The Illini would continue the pressure and had additional chances, with one finding the back of the net only to be flagged offsides. The halftime score would read 1-0 to Illinois.

The Illini wasted little time after coming out of the break, scoring in the 54th minute thanks to Pasquale. After a cross by Prell was tipped by Foley, the ball fell to Pasquale, who wasted no time in rocketing the ball into the roof of the net to extend the team’s lead to two. Illinois 2-0 Toledo.

There was no holding back from Illinois as eight minutes later junior forward Makala Woods found the team’s third goal of the match. After a beautiful over the top ball by sophomore midfielder Ella Karolak, Woods was able to drive into the box and dribble past the keeper for a simple finish. Illinois 3-0 Toledo.

However, Toledo managed to respond just over 30 seconds later. Forward Morgan Otteson was able to put the ball past junior goalkeeper Julia Cili, who had made a few big saves previously. Illinois 3-1 Toledo.

It would be the Illini who would finish out the scoring, however, as sophomore midfielder Maddie Mariani floated a ball into the back of the net from the right wing. Catching the keeper off-guard, Mariani was able to score the fourth and final goal of the match. Final score: Illinois 4, Toledo 1.

“I thought we did some great things in front of the goal,” Rayfield said. “We had four different contributors in terms of scoring goals, and we gotta continue to do that. I thought we probably finished our chances a little bit better today than we did on Thursday, so that certainly has us heading in the right direction.”

While it was a special senior day for the seven players being honored, it was a near perfect senior day for Pasquale. Scoring a goal and winning in front of the Illini faithful was a fitting way to conclude four years with the program.

“I was ecstatic,” Pasquale said. “It’s a great feeling. Of course you want to come out here and give this team everything I have so for four years I’ve tried to do that. Honestly these girls mean the world to me so I was just glad we were able to get the win.”

Amidst the hundreds of fans in attendance at Demirjian Park were the friends and family of Pasquale, who came wearing shirts with both Pasquale’s number as well as pictures from her Illini playing career showcased on the back.

“Honestly my family’s the best,” said a beaming Pasquale. “I’m very driven and motivated by my family, so the fans mean the world to me honestly. They come out and support us time and time again, so being able to have my extended family here really meant a lot to me.”

Following the victory over Toledo, Illinois (2-0) will return to action next week with two road games against Butler on Thursday and Notre Dame on Sunday.

 

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