Maday’s two goals lead Illini in season finale

The+Illini+soccer+team+celebrate+after+defeating+Minnesota+at+Demirjian+Park+on+Sunday.

Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

The Illini soccer team celebrate after defeating Minnesota at Demirjian Park on Sunday.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

The Illinois soccer team (9-8-1) defeated Minnesota (3-12-4), 4-1, in its season finale Sunday in Champaign.

The Illini struggled in Big Ten play this season but dominated against the Golden Gophers from the start of the match.

At 15:39, senior forward Kelly Maday put one in the back of the net to give the Illini a 1-0 lead. Maday was tied for first in goals heading into the game alongside junior midfielder Hope Breslin and sophomore forward Makena Silber, each having six goals this season.

But the scoring was just getting started, and the Illini held their lead for the majority of the first half.

Minnesota forward Sadie Harper evened the score before the half at 37:31; the goal was her second of the season. Illinois found itself in a familiar spot as the team has entered halftime in a tie several times recently, including at Ohio State and Penn State.

Statistically, the teams were fairly evenly matched. Both teams had two shots on goal and one save, but Minnesota took more shots overall, outshooting Illinois 7-5 in the first half.

In the second period, the Illini got off to a quick start. At 50:47, redshirt freshman defender Kendra Pasquale scored on a penalty kick to give the Illini a 2-1 edge. Normally, Breslin takes penalty kicks for the team but instead encouraged Pasquale to take the kick Sunday.

“This is the first, like, opportunity I’ve gotten to take one in the game,” Pasquale said. “I just kind of picked a spot, trusted myself, hit it, and it was a great feeling.”

But the Illini weren’t done scoring, as Maday scored her second goal of the afternoon at 58:18, giving Illinois a 3-1 advantage.

Soon after, Maday headed the ball back toward the goal. The ball spiraled to the side and Illinois picked up an offsides call.

Maday was subbed out at 63:12, but came back in the closing minutes. Normally, Maday is subbed out during the second period, but today, she said she saw a glimpse into what is to come for next season.

“Just being my last game ever, I think it was a good opportunity to see, like, the future of what Illini soccer is gonna be like,” Maday said. “I’m really proud of every single person on this team. Whether on the bench or on the field today, I think we just brought the energy and really, I just felt the love from everybody for this senior class, and I’m just super happy to be a part of this program.”

Even after a 3-1 lead, Illinois wasn’t done scoring for the afternoon. Senior midfielder Arianna Veland scored at 83:56 to clinch the 4-1 win for the Illini.

Although Sunday was the team’s season finale, head coach Janet Rayfield thought the team improved this season under the senior class’ leadership, particularly in the second half of games.

“I think (the senior class) wanted to show the type of team that they’ve helped to build, and today was a great example of that,” Rayfield said. “Sometimes, fighting for each other is more important than fighting for any trophy, and I think that’s what they did in the second half, and the results speak to that.”

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