Fresh faces help soccer go 2-0 in home games

The Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium was abandoned Saturday afternoon. Remnants of Isaac brought no favors for the Illinois soccer team last weekend. With the weather advisories in effect for the weekend, the match against UW-Milwaukee was rescheduled from Saturday to Monday afternoon. The Illini clinched their second home win of the season and their first multigoal victory, “defeating the Panthers 3-1. “:

After only scoring three goals in their four previous games, Illinois’ extra day off gave it the additional energy on Labor Day, as the Illini scored the first goal 20 minutes into the game. The offense’s success was evident of the outcome, but the frontline wasn’t only focused on scoring.

“(On Monday), we did really well moving,” senior Marissa Holden said. “We also did really well defensively. We’ve really been working on something as far as defending on our attacking half, not even letting them put pressure on our backs, and I think we did a much better job of that.”

Illini athletes show support

The first game Illinois played at home was before students arrived back on campus against Western Michigan on Aug. 17. After a long weekend of traveling on the West Coast, facing tough competition such as UC Santa Barbara and UCLA, the Illini were happy to play their next match at home. As the game was rescheduled to a holiday, the hopes for a big crowd vanished.

However, to its surprise, Illinois had a variety of fans in its crowd.

“I think it’s awesome when people are out there supporting,” senior Kristen Gierman said. “We had a great turnout. We not only had the local fans, but we also had a lot of Illini athletes there. It makes it a lot of fun to play in front of them and we all know each other. We really do appreciate the times when we do get to come home and play in front of the home crowd.”

Fresh feet on the field bring success

There are 11 Illini players who are in the starting lineup and 24 players listed on the team roster.

After maintaining the lead against UW-Milwaukee, interim head coach Jeff Freeman began to make substitutions from the bench into the game. Holden said the fresh faces contributed to the offensive opportunities created.

“We made a lot of substitutions today. (It’s) great to play with some of my other teammates,” Holden said. “I think that it also really helps because we all have been working really hard, and we all were exhausted. This was definitely one of our better games as a team.”

The substitutions allowed Nicole Denenberg, Taylore Peterson and Holden to tally their first goals of the 2012 season. Monday’s game marked the most goals scored in a single match by Illinois this year.

Quick turnaround before weekend competition

Rescheduling the match for Labor Day brought its benefits for the Illini, but they will have a quick turnaround before the two games this weekend. Illinois will only have two days to prepare for its matches in Winston-Salem, N.C. However, Freeman isn’t worried about the Illini keeping focus.

“(Tuesday) is basically a recovery day for us,” Freeman said. “We’re not going to get a lot of work done that way, but we will watch some film and solve some of the problems that Wisconsin-Milwaukee presented. We’ll have a great training session on Wednesday, and it’s really more about us continuing to improve … less about preparing for our opponents in terms of any changes we may make.”

Gina can be reached at [email protected] and @muelle30.