Flaws nets hat trick in Illinois soccer's victory over St. Louis

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By Matt Gertsmeier

Typically after a goal is scored in soccer, the scoring team huddles around the scoring player in celebration. That was not the case for Jannelle Flaws during the first goal of the Illinois’s 3-1 victory against St. Louis on Sunday.

After a perfectly executed two-on-one pass in the box during the 16th minute from Reagan Robishaw, Flaws netted her 48th career goal off the crossbar — the goal etched her name on top of Illinois’ career goal-scoring list.

With a noticeably wide grin, Flaws immediately jogged over to the Illinois bench and embraced coach Rayfield after making history. After giving the two a brief moment, the hug was followed by the rest of her team swarming her in congratulations as the PA Announcer honored her achievement and the home crowd let out a roar.

For Flaws it was a moment she said she’ll always remember .

“I kind of thought about it, I didn’t really tell anyone because I didn’t want to make a big deal about it,” Flaws said about her hug with Rayfield. “It’s a huge moment and obviously I wanted to share it with the team, but I owe a lot of my success as a player to the coaches, and especially to Janet. Her belief in me, when I didn’t believe in myself, was a big motivator for me to get back on the field and start scoring goals again.”

However, after her special moment, it didn’t take long for Flaws to add some cushion to her newly acquired spot atop the all-time scoring list.

She finished the first half by completing a hat trick. Her second goal came in the 19th minute off an assist from Aliina Weykamp and her third was deflection off her head with her back to the goal in the 25th minute from a pass from Hope D’Addario.

While Flaws’ performance was the most recognizable, she wasn’t the only Illini to play well in the first half. Goalkeeper Claire Wheatley shutout the Billikens with the help of a key clearance from Nicole Breece.

The second half proved to be less dramatic than the first. St. Louis attempted to mount a comeback after Danielle Tolmais scored a goal in the 77th minute, but it was too little too late — Flaws and the Illini would not be denied.

After the game Flaws was honored at midfield with the presentation of the ball that broke the record. Presenting Flaws with the ball was Tara Hurless, the previous record holder

“I told her, ‘Finally, you beat the record. Congratulations,’” Hurless said of the interaction she had after giving her the ball. “I wouldn’t want to share (the moment) with anyone else but her.”

When asked about Flaws’ record, Rayfield said she was proud of her sixth-year senior, particularly for her perseverance and particularly because of the rough stretch Illini athletics has been through in the last few months.

“We certainly hope that gets as big of a spotlight as some of the things that maybe haven’t been as positive,” Rayfield said.

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