Illini soccer seniors leave lasting impressions

Saturday’s home game against Michigan marks the final home game of the regular season for the Illinois soccer team. More notably, it will be the last regular season home game for the senior class, which tallied a career record of 45-27-7 and two NCAA appearances.

“Every class kind of has their personality,” head coach Janet Rayfield said. “And this year’s class, if anything, has made us competitive.”

As the senior class nears the end of its time at Illinois, here are some of the five Illini’s many accomplishments.

*Jenna Carosio*

In four seasons, Carosio has slowly become one of the top defenders in the conference and the leader of a talented defensive team. She was one of just two non-goalkeepers to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week this season. Having started in just eight games entering this season, the Novi, Mich., native has started every game this year. Her career totals include four goals and one assist in 66 games, 26 of which she started in.

“I think she has found the place where she feels really comfortable on the soccer field, and her experience from all those other years I think has allowed her to step in a do that really well,” Rayfield said.

*Caitlin Dombart*

The West Chester, Ohio., native has been a solid defender for the Illini. Although she has come off the bench in most of her action, she started 12 of 17 contests, recording more than 1,000 minutes in 2009. Dombart has seen action in all four seasons, playing in 43 games while starting in 18 of them.

“She asks for nothing, works tirelessly behind the scenes, and doesn’t care if she has the limelight,” Rayfield said. “But yet I know she wants to be on the field and wants to play, but never ever lets you know that there’s anything bothering her, and that a unique quality. … She’s kind of the competent team player because of that.”

*Julie Ewing*

Ewing started her time with the Illini as a defender. During her junior year, she became one of just two Illini to record more than 1,700 minutes of action in a season. The Batavia, Ill., native has started in 60 of the 71 games she has played in for Illinois, including every game in the last three seasons. She’s recorded four goals and six assists.

“You know, I think we could be playing tiddlywinks or drawing straws and Julie would do what it would take to win that,” Rayfield said. “There’s a creativeness to her and competitiveness, and those two sometimes battle each other, but it’s kind of what makes her unique.”

*Jackie Guerra*

Guerra entered this season having played in just 14 games with the Illini. The midfielder made her first career start in the first game of this season and has started every game since, becoming a key part of the Illinois offense. The Plano, Texas, native has recorded one goal and two assists in 32 games for the Illini.

“Jackie Guerra probably is a story unlike I’ve had as a player,” Rayfield said. “At some point her junior year she made the decision to give everything she had, with the risk of not really being guaranteed a spot or time on the field. But the difference that she made once she made that decision to really maximize what she could as a soccer player and do everything she could to help this program, it was an amazing transition.”

*Marissa Mykines*

The Spokane, Wash., native has been a staple of the Illini offense since her time as a freshman. The forward has started in all but two of the games she has played in during the last three seasons.

Mykines has seen a flurry of goals this season, currently ranking second on the team with seven. Playing in 78 games, starting in 54 of them, Mykines has tallied 13 goals and 12 assists.

“Riss is a special player with special attributes that I think sometimes she doesn’t even know how special she is or how special she could be as a soccer player,” Rayfield said. “She’s got that combination of power to strike a ball, speed to get behind people and a natural ability to run all day. You put those three together and that’s a special soccer player.”