Illinois soccer prepares to take on in-state rivals Loyola in final non-conference matchup

Senior+defense+Aleah+Treiterer+steals+the+ball+from+a+Missouri+opponent+on+Thursday.+The+Illini+will+be+going+up+against+rival+Loyola+on+Sunday.++

Sidney Malone

Senior defense Aleah Treiterer steals the ball from a Missouri opponent on Thursday. The Illini will be going up against rival Loyola on Sunday.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois soccer will be returning to action on Sunday at Demirjian Park, where it will welcome its final nonconference opponent of the season in Loyola.

“(Loyola) is another good team,” head coach Janet Rayfield said. “It’s an in-state rivalry, so we’re certainly going to have to be ready to play again.”

Both the Illini and the Ramblers are coming into the matchup on two-game winning streaks each. Illinois has regained form recently with back-to-back victories against Indiana State and Missouri while Loyola is on an unbeaten run after taking down Western Illinois and DePaul.

Both teams have also played two ranked opponents each. While Illinois suffered a 1-0 defeat to No. 18 Texas A&M recently, but managed to defeat No. 17 Butler 1-0 on Aug. 25. That victory saw the program earn its first victory over a ranked opponent since 2019. Loyola, on the other hand, recently lost out to No. 19 Xavier by a 1-0 result but managed a 1-1 draw against No. 24 Wisconsin, also on Aug. 25.

Historically, the Illini and the Ramblers have faced off four times, a series in which the Illini are yet to drop a match. Loyola will be looking to earn its first-ever victory over Illinois on Sunday. Additionally, the Illini have outscored the Ramblers 11-1 over the course of the series, with the last matchup being a 3-1 victory for the Illini back in 2019.

In its last matchup, Illinois managed to take down a strong Missouri team in a hard-fought contest. A 23rd-minute goal by redshirt senior defender Kendra Pasquale was enough to claim victory over the visitors. In addition to a resilient performance on the pitch, the Illini supporters made their presence known on Thursday, creating a powerful atmosphere that undoubtedly spurred the players onwards. Demirjian Park has not been an easy place for visitors to play at this season and the Ramblers will be aiming to become only the second team so far to beat the Illini on home turf in 2022.

Illinois (5-2-0) will take the pitch against Loyola (4-2-1) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Illini fans at Demirjian Park will be witnessing the team’s final nonconference match before the start of the highly anticipated Big Ten matches.

“We’re treating every game the same, win or lose,” Rayfield said following the victory over Missouri. “We’ll get back to work the next day and get better. We’re going to do that tomorrow, we’re going to do that on Saturday and then we’re going to focus on Loyola on Sunday.”

 

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