COLUMBIA, Mo. — The scene was all too familiar: NCAA tournament game. At Missouri. Match headed to a penalty kick shootout.
Just like in 2008, this version of the Illini didn’t flinch.
“I had a lot of players from the 2008 team text me: ‘Deja vu,’ ” UI coach Janet Rayfield said after Saturday night’s 2-1 win against Missouri in an NCAA opener. “There were a lot of similarities, a lot of things reminiscent of the last time.”
Like clutch goalkeeping.
Steph Panozzo saved the first two Missouri shootout attempts, and the third hit the bar. And Illinois’ Taylore Peterson, Kassidy Brown and Allina Weykamp calmly nailed their penalties to give Illinois a 3-0 advantage.
“When Steph made those first two PK saves, you could see the confidence of the team growing,” Rayfield said. “She was fantastic.”
Next up for the Illini (11-8-3) — just like in 2008 — a trip to No. 1 seeded North Carolina on Friday night.
“It’ll be a test but we’ve played some great competition, from UCLA to Penn State, and I hope we’ve learned from that,” Rayfield said
Illinois, which came into NCAA play after a strong Big Ten tournament effort, got a first-half goal from junior Allie Osoba. Missouri (14-8-0) answered early in the second half.
“We didn’t play great,” Rayfield said. “But this team battles. Any time you battle and fight, good things can happen.”