Illinois soccer falls on the road to No. 17 Penn State in worst defeat of season


Angel Saldivar

The Illini get together after a tie against Loyola on Sept. 11. The Illini suffered a huge defeat against Penn State with no notable performances from the Illini resulting in a 0-5 loss.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

Sunday saw Illinois soccer take on its third ranked opponent of 2022 in No. 17 Penn State. The Illini were outclassed in University Park for their second loss in the Big Ten this season.

Coming off a dramatic 3-2 away victory over Maryland a few days prior, Illinois traveled to Penn State in search of a second consecutive victory. The team was unable to pull off the upset over the Nittany Lions and fell by a heavy margin to their opponents.

Similarly to in the match against the Terrapins, Sunday’s game saw the Illini down after the first minute of play. Penn State found itself on the board just 30 seconds after kickoff thanks to Penelope Hocking. A long ball by the Nittany Lions released Amelia White down the right wing, who centered the ball into the path of Hocking for the tap-in finish. Penn State 1-0 Illinois.

In the 37th minute, the Nittany Lions struck again. Payton Linnehan was able to beat the Illinois backline on the dribble and find Olivia Smith inside the box, who redirected the ball past junior goalkeeper Julia Cili for the second goal of the match. Penn State 2-0 Illinois.

Cili was able to make a great save in the 40th minute, coming out of the goal to stop a one-on-one opportunity to keep the deficit at two. However, five minutes later Penn State scored a third. A corner kick into Illinois’ box was unable to get properly cleared away, and Jill Jennings managed to shoot the ball into the net just before halftime. The score read Penn State 3-0 Illinois heading into the break.

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In the second half, the Illini had their closest opportunity of the game in the 52nd minute. Redshirt senior Ashley Prell received the ball on the left wing and outpaced the Nittany Lions’ left back, before passing to sophomore forward Abby Lynch. Lynch fired off a powerful shot from inside the box but nailed the crossbar.

Illinois conceded again in the 57th minute as Hocking found her second goal of the match. The Nittany Lions followed that up with another goal in the 89th minute. Just before the final whistle the Nittany Lions’ Natalie Wilson split the Illini backline with a through ball that found Kaitlyn MacBean, who slotted the ball into the far left corner from close range. Final score: Penn State 5, Illinois 0.

The Illini couldn’t get anything of significance going during the course of the match. The ranked Nittany Lions are one of the highest caliber teams the Illini have faced in 2022, and they showed their class on Sunday during what was their senior day.

Penn State kept Cili busy in goal, with the junior making 11 saves during the 90 minutes of play. Cili became the eighth goalkeeper in Illinois history to make at least 100 saves, with her overall total now at 106 stops.

Illinois (6-4-1 overall, 1-2 B1G) will look to bounce back in its return home to Demirjian Park, where it will take on Iowa (3-5-3 overall, 0-2-1 B1G) on Thursday night.



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