Maeve Jones scores stunning goal as Illinois soccer shares honors against Iowa

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Sidney Malone

Forward Maeve Jones runs to intercept the opposing University of Missouri on Sept. 9. Jones made an outstanding 35-yard goal on Thursday’s match against Iowa that resulted in a 2-2 tie.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

After a week of playing conference matches on the road, Illinois soccer returned to Champaign on Thursday night to take on Iowa. The Illini drew level with the Hawkeyes in what was an exciting and heated night of Big Ten soccer.

“I liked our fight,” head coach Janet Rayfield said. “I just looked and there were 31 fouls. It’s hard to get a rhythm in a game like that but we fought back, got the lead and then a scrappy goal to get the tie. We’ll take the point in the Big Ten. Every game is a fight, and like I said, I was proud of the fight we showed tonight.”

The match kicked off with both teams finding chances. The Illini nearly broke the deadlock in the fourth minute after junior forward Julia Eichenbaum played a great ball over the top to sophomore midfielder Sydney Stephens, who missed the one on one.

Illinois did well in retaining possession and working in a shot every couple minutes, but it was Iowa who struck first. In the 23rd minute, Sara Wheaton sent a long-ranged ball into the Illini box and saw it go through the hands of junior goalkeeper Julia Cili and into the back of the net. The rare mistake from Cili saw Illinois down one for the remainder of the half. Illinois 0-1 Iowa.

The Illini found close chances but could not convert, and went into the break still in a one-goal deficit. The first half set the tone for the match, with the fast-paced, rough nature of the game returning in the second half.

Neither side was able to convert the numerous chances created coming out of halftime, with the Illini coming close to scoring and Cili making crucial saves on the other end of the pitch.

Finally, Illinois earned a lifeline. In the 65th minute, a poor clearance by the Hawkeye goalkeeper saw the Illini rush the goal. A poor slide by Iowa’s keeper in the box fouled Stephens inside the box, earning a prime chance for Illinois to get on the board. Senior defender Aleah Treiterer stepped up to take the penalty kick and managed to hold her nerve, firing a powerful shot into the roof of the net to level the score. Illinois 1-1 Iowa.

In the 72nd minute, the fans at Demirjian Park were treated to one of the best goals the Illini have scored this season. After picking up the ball from redshirt defender Kendra Pasquale in the middle of the pitch, sophomore forward Maeve Jones fired a stunning 35-yard rocket into the back of the net. The ball soared over the Hawkeyes’ keeper and into the top left corner of the goal to give the Illini the advantage. Illinois 2-1 Iowa.

Two minutes later, Cili pulled off a fantastic stop from close range, leading to a Hawkeye corner kick. The corner saw a shot cleared off the line by senior midfielder Lilian Lucas before Iowa managed to slam the ball into the back of the net. Illinois 2-2 Iowa.

A tense final 15 minutes saw the Hawkeyes nearly score the winner if it weren’t thanks to great defensive work by the Illini. The match came to a close, and another evening of intense Big Ten soccer concluded in Champaign. Final score: Illinois 2, Iowa 2.

Although Illinois were hoping to leave Demirjian Park with three points on Thursday, the lasting memory will no doubt be of Jones’ wonder strike. It’s going to be hard to top what was Jones’ second goal of the season, as it was one of the Illini’s best over the course of their 2022 campaign so far.

“I got the ball, I turned, I looked and had space,” Jones said. “The defenders were dropping and the keeper was out. I was so far out and shot it thinking I could chip her. I turned around, saw Kendra with her hands in the air and I knew it went in.”

While Jones’ incredible goal was the shining highlight of the match for the Illini, the hard-fought performance that the team put on display cannot be overlooked.

“It was a battle the whole game,” Jones said. “Iowa’s a great team, they’re aggressive, they’re gritty and we had to play just like that to match their energy. I thought we did a great job of coming out, competing and getting a point today.”

Illinois (6-4-2 overall, 1-2-1 B1G) will be back at Demirjian Park on Sunday to host its strongest opponent yet in No. 8 Northwestern (9-1-2 overall, 3-0-1 B1G). The match will kickoff at 1 p.m.

 

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