Silber scores late goal to seal win for Illini
February 18, 2021
The Illini headed into the game ranked No. 10 in the Big Ten preseason poll, with Purdue right behind at No. 11. Senior midfielder Hope Breslin, redshirt-sophomore Ashley Cathro and Silber were named to the Big Ten players to watch list.
The lineup consisted of veterans Breslin, Hillman, and Silber. New in the lineup was goalkeeper Sami Sample, defenders Henar Urteaga, Aleah Treiterer, and Joanna Verzosa-Dolezal, and forwards Lauren Stibich and Meredith Johnson-Monfort.
It was the first game in 480 days for Illini and the nerves and the anxious feelings were very much clear among everyone.
“Those pregame jitters, you can definitely sense that,” Silber said. “But we kind of worked out those kinks and we reminded each other to just take a deep breath. The excitement was there, the anxiousness was there, but as the game went on we came into our own and settled down a bit.”
The first half was at level and silent between the Illini and Boilermakers. Given the stats, both teams were playing an equal game as it was the first competitive match in a while for them.
Only a total of four shots, two apiece, were taken by both teams. With the Illini leading and having both their shots end up on goal taken by Breslin and Silber.
Scoreless at the end of the first half, by the second half, both Illinois and Purdue had flipped a switch and it became a lively 45 minutes.
Purdue outshot the Illini 10-6 but failed to get any on goal except three compared to the Illini’s five.
Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield made many substitutions over the course of the game. Freshmen forwards Makala Woods and Julia Eichenbaum earned their first Big Ten minutes of their career.
Heading into the last 10 minutes of the match, Hillman sent a ball into the box, but it was saved by the Boilermakers’ goalkeeper Marisa Bova. The deflected save went to Silber’s feet and she was able to kick it right into the goal.
“Coach (Rayfield) always talks about when you’re in the box and you’re on the end of it, always expect the ball is going to come to you,” Silber said. “So I was luckily able to finish it and put it away for us.”
Illinois’s next game will be on Thursday against Iowa. Rayfield will be looking to get a second win and improve at practice to be ready for the Hawkeyes.
“We’ve got to defend a little higher up the field,” Rayfield said. “We got kind of back in our end, our half a lot. As opposed to Purdue’s half and that’s a little bit of our organization in terms of our team defending.”