Illinois soccer looks ahead to No. 18 Texas A&M in search of second victory over ranked opposition


Angel Saldivar

Sophomore forward Maeve Jones attempts to steal the ball from Illinois State on Aug. 18. The Illini will be back home at Demirjian Park against Texas A&M on Thursday.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois soccer will be returning home on Thursday to take on No. 18 Texas A&M, its second ranked opponent of the season. The Illini will be looking to rebound from Sunday’s away loss to the Fighting Irish and get back in the win column.

With three wins out of four total matches so far, the Illini have shown they can hang with the country’s best. The last two matches have tested Illinois, with the team being pit against top-level opponents in No. 17 Butler and a Notre Dame side that, while unranked on Sunday, came in at No. 16 in the most recent rankings list.

“Lessons from today may be more painful than previous games,” head coach Janet Rayfield said on Sunday following the defeat, “But they will also be more impactful when we learn from them to get better.”

A return home could be just what this Illini team needs in order to shake off the most recent 4-0 defeat to the Fighting Irish. Demirjian Park has been loud this 2022 season with fans packing the stands in support. In its two home matches this season, Illinois has beaten Illinois State by a 1-0 scoreline and Toledo by a 4-1 scoreline. In each of their wins, the Illini have clicked well across every area of the pitch, something they’ll need to rekindle in order to beat the No. 18 Aggies.

Texas A&M currently holds a 3-0-1 overall record this season. After opening the season with a 0-0 draw against No. 25 Clemson, Texas A&M has gone on a winning streak. The Aggies have been on quite the scoring spree lately, outscoring their last three opponents 16-1. Specifically, the team took down McNeese 8-0, Sam Houston 6-0 and New Mexico State 2-1. These results earned Texas A&M the No. 18 spot in the most recent rankings.

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The Illini backline will likely have their hands full on Thursday trying to stop the red-hot Aggies frontline. However, with a ranked win already under their belt, the team will have every reason to believe they have the ability to defend home turf.

Illinois (3-1-0) will take on a talented No. 18 Texas A&M side on Thursday night for its second match against ranked opposition this season. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. under the bright lights of Demirjian Park.



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