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 ends 3-game losing streak with decisive win against Purdue

Eric Chiang
Sophomore midfielder Lia Howard dribbles the ball in the game against Michigan on Sept. 24.

Illinois soccer welcomed Purdue to Demirjian Park on Sunday. After three Big Ten losses in a row, the Illini fought hard against the Boilermakers to return to winning ways and claim an important three points.

The Illini were off to a great start two minutes in thanks to sophomore midfielder Lia Howard, who picked up the ball in midfield and drove to the edge of the box before pulling off a nice, curled finish into the bottom right corner of the Boilermakers goal, making it 1-0.

“We talked about taking chances as a group,” Howard said. “When the ball hit my foot and I looked up, I thought I might as well just take this chance, and it ended up working out.”

Howard has gone through a purple patch of scoring lately, making it two goals in four games for the Massapequa native.

“Honestly, I think it’s just using my teammates around me, using my coaching staff,” Howard said. “The only reason I’m in the positions to score is because of my teammates, so I think if we all continue to work as a unit, I get my job done, they get their job done and it’s all good at the end of the day.”

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After a first 15 minutes dominated by the Illini, a lapse in concentration from a Boilermakers corner led to senior goalkeeper Julia Cili parrying the ball out to forward Brooke Haarala, who tapped it into an empty net to equalize, changing the complex of the game.

The Boilermakers’ set pieces were a problem for the Illini throughout the entire first half. In the 29th minute, a corner was whipped in by Purdue and was cleared by the Illinois defense, but another cross came in from the edge of the box and headed over the crossbar from 8 yards out. In the 31st minute, the Boilermakers got a free kick on the edge of the box which connected with an open header and floated over the crossbar, another let off.

The game looked like it was ebbing away for the Illini, but they fought hard in the second half, and it showed. Freshman defender Mya Archibald dribbled to the right side of the Boilermakers box before putting a low cross into the middle to senior forward Makala Woods, who turned the defender and slotted the ball past Cyr with her left foot to make it 2-1 in the 52nd minute.

The Illini did very well to keep the ball for the rest of the second half, but 12 minutes from time, Purdue crossed the ball into the middle of the Illinois box. The shot by midfielder Emily Matthews led to a diving save by Cili to keep the Illini in front.

Illinois did well to keep Purdue at bay. In the last seconds of the game, a desperate attempt from 25 yards out by Boilermakers defender Sabrina Blount cannoned into the onrushing sophomore defender Ellen Persson, leading to a huge cheer from the crowd. Final score: Illinois 2, Purdue 1.

“I’m incredibly proud of the effort the team put forth to get the win today,” said head coach Janet Rayfield. “We started winning first and second balls and gained more control in the second half, which helped us get the win.”

Illinois (6-6-3 overall, 2-4-2 in conference) will be heading on the road to face a very strong Michigan State side (10-3-3 overall, 5-1-2 conference) on Thursday night, now with a spring in their step.



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