The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois soccer concedes last-second goal, falls short against No. 12 Wisconsin

Junior+Abby+Lynch+making+eye+contact+with+the+ball+and+planning+her+next+move+to+attack.%0AIllinois+will+be+attempting+to+break+in+a+win+on+Sunday+against+Purdue.
Caden Bargowski
Junior Abby Lynch making eye contact with the ball and planning her next move to attack. Illinois will be attempting to break in a win on Sunday against Purdue.

Illinois soccer returned to Champaign on Thursday night following a three-game road trip to welcome the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers to Demirjian Park. While Illinois fought hard over the course of 90 minutes, it wasn’t enough, with the visitors finding a late winner to claim all three points.

“It’s a cruel game,” said head coach Janet Rayfield. “Ella (Karolak) played a great game and slips in the box right there at the end, that’s a tough one. I’m just gutted for my team that they fought as hard as they fought tonight, and then to lose a game like that in the last seconds, I’m gutted for them.”

The first half kicked off to a quiet start for Illinois, with senior goalkeeper Julia Cili being called into action on numerous occasions. Despite the Illini going head-to-head with the top-ranked Badgers during the first 45 minutes, they were unable to create anything offensively.

Wisconsin managed to gain control of the game and began applying the pressure on Illinois’ defense, but Rayfield’s squad successfully repelled all six of the visitors’ attempts. The game ended scoreless going into halftime, with the Badgers holding the Illini to zero shots total.

The Illinois team that headed into the break was replaced by a squad refueled and ready to attack. The front line quickly began pressing high, pressuring Wisconsin’s backline and forcing them further back into their own half.

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    Illinois’ added pressure earned the team four straight corner kicks starting in the 63rd minute but was unable to break the deadlock. Sophomore defender Ellen Persson came the closest to opening the scoring for the Illini, rising for a header that hit the far post in the 68th minute.

    As the packed crowd at Demirjian Park screamed for a goal, Illinois continued pushing for a game-winner but had its efforts continually pushed away. The match appeared set to end in a scoreless draw, but one final push from the visitors was enough to add one last twist to the tale.

    The Badgers were able to work the ball to the end line before squaring it into the Illini box, where Sarah Rosenbaum stepped up and fired the ball past Cili to claim the win. The 90th-minute winner came at the last possible moment, with the Illini unable to equalize with the mere 20 seconds left on the clock. Final score: Illinois 0, Wisconsin 1.

    “We had to play in behind them because of how high their backline was,” Rayfield said. “We got corner kicks, we got the things we wanted in the second half. We had some opportunities and didn’t put them away. You leave yourself open, but I think a tie would’ve been a fair result and I’m gutted for my team.”

    It was a story of being so close, yet so far for the Illini, who now find themselves struggling to secure their first win since Sept. 24.

    Illinois (5-6-3 overall, 1-4-2 conference) will have a chance to snap its three-game losing streak on Sunday, as it welcomes a struggling Purdue side (3-10-2 overall, 0-5-2 conference) to Champaign for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

     

    @james_kim15

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    About the Contributor
    James Kim, Sports Editor
    My name is James Kim and I’m a senior studying English with a minor in business. This is my third year with The Daily Illini and it’s been an amazing ride so far. When I joined in fall 2021, I began as a staff writer for the sports section where I covered women’s tennis. In spring 2022, I became an assistant sports editor and started covering soccer and Illinois men’s basketball. From spring 2023 onwards I’ve been working as the sports editor! In addition to being an Illini and Real Madrid fanatic, I also love watching movies and TV shows. If you have any questions about writing for The DI, you can reach me at my email below. I-L-L!
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