Laura Knutson played most of the game at defensive center midfield for the Illini.
March 13, 2010
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Illinois soccer got a chance to compete against some of the best players in the world on Saturday, as the Illini lost 4-0 in an exhibition game with the Saint Louis Athletica of Women's Professional Soccer. The game took place at SIU-Edwardsville's Ralph Korte Stadium after being moved from Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park due to the field conditions.
"I thought we did some really good things," Illini head coach Janet Rayfield said. "For us the game did what it was intended to do: forced us to play faster, more organized and at a pace we'll only see at the top level of the college game. This is the kind of game that will really make us better."
The Athletica took a 3-0 lead into halftime with goals by Eniola Aluko, Kristina Larsen and Madelaine Edlund.
"We probably gave up two goals in the first seven minutes, but we adjusted and played much better after that," Rayfield said. "In the second half we did some nice things. We had some chances and stopped some of their opportunities to keep possession. Our speed of play was much better. They earned the opportunities they had; it wasn't defensive mistakes."
The fourth Athletica goal was scored by U.S. National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx in the 70th minute.
Steph Panozzo was in goal for the Orange and Blue, gaining some valuable experience in net. The Illinois midfield was held down by Jenna Carosio, Laura Knutson, Jackie Guerra and Niki Read, with Kristen Gierman playing the entire first half in the back along with the usual Illini starters.
Next up for the Illini this spring is another WPS team, as they will host the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday, April 3 at 2 p.m. at the Illinois Soccer Stadium.