Illinois soccer gets dismantled by No. 20 Ohio State following dreadful second half showing


Angel Saldivar

The Illini come together during a break against Loyola on Sept. 11. On Sunday the Illini suffered an unfortunate 1-6 defeat against Ohio State.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois soccer’s return to Champaign on Sunday did not go as planned, with the team suffering a devastating defeat at the hands of No. 20 Ohio State. The Illini’s inability to put together a complete 90-minute performance was seen once again, as the Buckeyes took over during the second half.

“We certainly have to come out better in the second half,” head coach Janet Rayfield said. “We gave balls away today in really costly positions. Ohio State is a good attacking team and they’re gonna punish you for that. We can’t give balls away in positions that make us vulnerable, because a good team like that with those good attacking players will punish you and that’s everyone in the Big Ten.”

Kickoff in Champaign saw the Illini fall behind early, with the Buckeyes on the scoreboard after 15 minutes of play. Kayla Fischer managed to play a square ball into Illinois’ box that found Kailyn Dudukovich, who redirected the ball past junior goalkeeper Julia Cili for the opening goal. Illinois 0-1 Ohio State.

The Illini recovered quickly and nearly equalized after junior forward Julia Eichenbaum hit the crossbar in the 20th minute. However, the tying goal belonged to sophomore midfielder Sydney Stephens, who dribbled toward the middle of the pitch in the 24th minute and buried a shot into the bottom left corner. The strike from distance counted as Stephens’ second goal of the season. Illinois 1-1 Ohio State.

The match continued to see a back-and-forth between the Illini and the Buckeyes. Cili managed a big one-on-one save and the frontline had multiple opportunities, but the score remained level until the 31st minute. Ohio State regained the advantage after Fischer found space and struck a powerful long-range shot into the back of Illinois’ net. Illinois 1-2 Ohio State.

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The Illini played a strong first half against the ranked Buckeyes, but as seen on numerous occasions during the season, things went downhill quickly coming out of the break.

Ohio State wasted no time in increasing its lead to two. In the 47th minute, Fischer picked up the ball in stride from Peyton ​​McNamara and fired home her second goal of the game from the top of the box. Illinois 1-3 Ohio State.

A minute later and the Illini found themselves down by three goals. A Buckeye attack down the wing resulted in the ball deflecting off of senior defender Aleah Treiterer and into the back of the net. The own goal served as the visitor’s fourth goal of the match. Illinois 1-4 Ohio State.

Fischer completed her hat trick in the 53rd minute. After a great save off the crossbar by Cili, the ball landed in front of the Buckeyes forward, who slammed it home from point blank range. Illinois 1-5 Ohio State.

The Buckeyes weren’t finished, and topped off the game with a sixth and final goal in the 74th minute. Christin Baumbick managed to catch Cili off guard with a shot from well outside the area. Baumbick sent the ball soaring into the top left corner of the net for a well-placed finish. Final score: Illinois 1, Ohio State 6.

It was a day to forget for the Illini, as another second half collapse resulted in another humbling Big Ten score line. In conference play specifically, Illinois hasn’t found the key to putting together strong performances that last for the full 90 minutes. The reason behind the late drops in energy is, for the meantime, a mystery.

“I don’t know,” Rayfield said of Illinois’ poor second half performances. “That’s something we’ll really have to take a look at, whether it’s a physical thing or a mental thing. We get in the locker room and we’re really focused on the things we want to change, and maybe we come out and forget that. We still have to compete. The adjustment doesn’t affect the competitive part of it and we certainly have to have that mindset.”

Illinois (7-7-2 overall, 2-5-1 B1G) will be back in action on Thursday as it travels north to take on Wisconsin (10-4-2 overall, 5-3 B1G) at 7 p.m. in Madison.



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