CHAMPAIGN — When school resumes Monday morning, classmates might not recognize Julie Ewing.
For so long a steady defender, the Illinois senior has become a scoring machine.
Just like that.
"It was so hard sitting back and watching everyone have so much fun near the goal," a smiling Ewing said, perhaps only half-joking. "Now I'm getting to have fun."
Ewing's shift from defense to midfield has paid off early for the 24th-ranked Illini, who beat Toledo 5-1 on Sunday at sun-splashed Illinois Soccer Stadium. "Juice" has two goals, and the Illini have 10 in two dominating performances.
"It's great to see," said Vanessa DiBernardo, the Big Ten's reigning scoring champ who scored two more goals Sunday to raise her season total to four. "We can score in a variety of ways."
In 53 matches before this season, Ewing had one goal. Her talents were used on defense, the Illini producing nine shutouts last season.
The Batavia product, however, shined as a midfielder for the Chicago Red Stars this summer. It's been more of the same the first weekend of the college season.
"A really smooth transition," UI coach Janet Rayfield said.
Ewing scored the Illini's first goal against Toledo. DiBernardo, Marissa Mykines and Allie Osoba had goals in the second half as the Illini pulled away.
"Scoring 10 goals the opening weekend, you have to look at that in a positive mind-set," Rayfield said. But ...
"I think we had 56 chances. In terms of finishing, our percentage isn't as good as we need it to be," she said.
The Illini didn't seem too worried after Sunday's match, hanging around for an hour signing autographs for a long line of children. Ewing stood near DiBernardo, shoulder to scoring shoulder.
"I just hope it continues," Ewing said. "We have so many different weapons on this team. I think we only go up from here."