Illini soccer controls its destiny
CHAMPAIGN — Allie Osoba made it a Senior Day to remember for herself and her Illinois soccer teammates.
Osoba scored her career-high fifth goal of the season, leading the Illini to a 2-0 victory against Michigan State on Sunday in a Big Ten match at the Illinois Soccer Stadium.
“Allie said that she felt that it was coming,” UI coach Janet Rayfield said of the goal in the 80th minute. “It was just a matter of the ball finding the right place.”
Illini forward Jannelle Flaws scored her school-record 19th goal of the season on a free kick to complete the scoring.
“Battling back from injury and being able to do what I’ve wanted to do this year that I wish I could have done in past years is awesome, but I am way more pleased with the win and the shutout (Sunday),” Flaws said. “That means more to me right now.”
With the victory, the Illini (9-7-2 overall, 4-5-1 Big Ten) are in control of their own destiny to make the Big Ten tournament, which Illinois will host.
“We just stayed with it (Sunday),” Rayfield said. “We were getting dangerous opportunities and lots of throw-ins. We were attacking the flank, and they were having to knock balls out of bounds. That really was what got us the win (Sunday), just not getting frustrated that we couldn’t find the back of the net and just staying with it.”
Flaws, who broke Emily Brown’s single-season school record (18) that was set in 1999, is second in the nation for goals this season.
Osoba opened the scoring after a flip throw by senior Megan Pawloski, who registered her fifth assist.
Illinois’ defense allowed five shots, including one after intermission.
“We talk a lot about defense being the back four and the goalkeeper, but (Sunday) that defense was really our midfield and forwards doing a lot of work to deny service,” Rayfield said. “Our backs are getting better and better. Amy Feher had a great day (Sunday), getting up and down the flank, and showed some real composure at the end of the game by just keeping the ball on the flank. This defense is maturing, and it’s a good time for that because we need to go into Minnesota with some confidence in our defense and some confidence in our attack.”
The Illini are tied for seventh with Iowa and Wisconsin heading into their regular season finale Thursday at Minnesota. Illinois holds the tiebreaker against the Hawkeyes and Badgers after defeating both schools during the regular season.
Squad upsets Badgers. Liz McMahon had 20 kills, leading Illinois to a 25-22, 28-26, 10-25, 25-22 victory against No. 16 Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.
“I thought we came out and played really well in that first set,” UI coach Kevin Hambly said of his squad, which improved to 9-11 overall and 5-5 in the Big Ten. “We attacked, and we competed at a high level. We’ve been talking a lot about playing determined and asserting our will on teams, and I thought we did that and did a really nice job with that. The second set was case and point of that; we struggled a little bit, but all we did was assert our will on them. We didn’t play great, but we clawed, we fought, we scratched, we found a way to make plays and win.”
Jocelynn Birks had a double-double (15 kills, 10 digs), and Morganne Criswell added 10 kills.
In women’s golf:
Schuldt shows way. Ember Schuldt was in fifth place, leading the Illini to third place after the first round of the Palmetto Intercollegiate in Kiawah Island, S.C.
The Illini trailed tournament leader Kansas by 7 strokes when the second round was suspended due to darkness.