#20 Illinois Drops Opener to Missouri, 3-1
Aug. 31, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois soccer team jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against Missouri, but the Tigers took control in the second half with three unanswered goals to capture a 3-1 win in front of 1,060 fans at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium on Friday. Despite a goal from Reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Ella Masar just over two minutes into the game, the Illini suffered their second straight loss to Missouri and fell to 0-1 on the season.
"Defensively, [Missouri] stretched us tonight," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "They came at us with some athleticism and exposed some things that we have to solve. We had to defend as individuals tonight and we have to find a way to defend as a collective unit because that is our strength."
The match was an aggressive battle from beginning to end, featuring 33 fouls. Illinois was able to expose holes in the Tigers defense early in the match, as Desjarlais crossed to Levitt who flicked the pass to Masar. Masar beat her defender and rocketed a shot from the left side into the back of the net for her first goal of the season. The two teams balanced each other's physical play throughout the rest of the half, with just a one-shot difference at the break.
The tide turned on the Illini in the second half, as Missouri capitalized on second-chance goals and shutdown Illinois' offense. The Orange and Blue managed just five shots in the second half, compared to the Tigers' 16.
"Missouri started to play the ball out wide in the second half and we could not get hold of the ball," Rayfield said. "Our possession was not what it needed to be to beat a team that is playing with that kind of high pressure and those kind of numbers coming at us. The crispness of our passes, our possession out of the back and our collective defending has to get better to beat a team with that kind of athleticism and that kind of pace of the game that they wanted to play."
The Tigers tied the match at 58:13 when midfielder Kristin Andrighetto knocked in a shot inside the six-yard box that had ricocheted off the crossbar. Missouri took a 2-1 lead three minutes later when Michelle Collins received a pass down the left side and fired a shot into the goal from 20 yards out. Collins netted Missouri's final goal in the 66th minute on another rebound for the Tigers, this time on a shot that deflected off the left post.
"We have to get the numbers out of our box," Rayfield said. "Anytime you are deep in your box like that and giving up those kinds of shots because they have numbers and you don't, you are putting your goalkeeper in a tough situation. [Goalkeeper] Lindsey Carstens did a great job. She was great in a one versus one situation and stopped a lot of pointblank shots. But we have to put her in a position to be able to do what she does well and not put those kinds of numbers in front of her."
The Illini look to rebound on Sunday when they return to the field to host the Xavier Musketeers. The match will begin at 1 p.m. at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium and fans are encouraged to take advantage of the Labor Day Special, with tickets available to everyone for just $2.