CHAMPAIGN – Urbana product Ella Masar's goal in the 84th minute lifted the Illinois women's soccer team to a 1-0 win against No. 9 Florida on Friday evening in Champaign.
"(Coach Rayfield) said you (have to) come out here and you have to play hard and you have to go at (them) every minute," Masar said. "We play together and I think that really helped. It wasn't one person individually; we all played together as a team."
Illinois put constant pressure on the Gators throughout with 14 shots on goal. Although it didn't score early, Illini coach Janet Rayfield was pleased with how her squad came out of the gate.
"I think the first half might have been the best soccer we have played so far this season," Rayfield said. "Against a really solid team, we played good defense and were able to create scoring opportunities."
After falling out of the Top 25, the Illini took it upon themselves to show they belonged among the top teams in the country.
"What motivated them tonight was they really wanted to show themselves how they could compete against a top-10 team,"Rayfield said. "They wanted to prove to themselves that they were a top-10 team. And whether we get ranked in the top 20 after this weekend ... Idon't think that will matter because we've proven to ourselves that we can compete."
Masar's goal was the eighth game-winner of her career, tying her for fourth in school history in the category.
Hoerr sparks Illini
Trent Hoerr ran the third-fastest 8-kilometer time in school history, leading the Illini to the team title of the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships at Normal.
Hoerr, a senior, finished second in 23 minutes, 54 seconds.
"Trent is a guy that has the potential to do some special things this year," UI coach Wendel McRaven said. "He is at the right point in the season and his hard work is paying off."
Illinois' five individual scorers finished in the top 16, with Jacob Nachel placing fourth and Michael Kelley 11th. The Illini scored 47 points, 11 fewer than runner-up Rend Lake, to win the 22-team meet.
UI wins behind Woods
Freshman Danelle Woods, in her first collegiate race, finished second to lead Illinois to the team crown of the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships.
Woods completed the 5K event in 17:27.75 to lead four other Illini in the top nine.
Freshman Chantelle Groenewoud was fourth, sophomore Abby Shunk placed fifth, sophomore Theresa Brokaw finished sixth, and sophomore Jamie Brusa was ninth.
Illinois totaled 26 points to defeat runner-up Illinois State by 41.
"Our two top freshmen, Danelle Woods and Chantelle Groenewoud, ran very well," Illini coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. "Everyone ran the race they were supposed to and I'm very pleased with the outcome.
"This is a benchmark for our team in that we stayed patient at the beginning of the race and ran through the field."