Defense delivers for Illini soccer

Illinois'' soccer players hope their shutout habit is one they don''t break.

The Illini posted their third shutout of the season, defeating Wright State 2-0 on Friday at the Clash of the Conferences tournament in West Lafayette, Ind.

Hurless is more for Illini

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Two first-half goals, including a sensational score by senior Tara Hurless, gave the Illini women''s soccer team its first road victory of the season.

Hurless scored her first goal of the season on a header from the top of the box, and Leisha Alcia made fives saves as Illinois beat Southeast Missouri State 2-0 on Friday.

Illini get offensive in season-opening win against Tigers

URBANA – The Illinois women''s soccer team posted a school-record 16-4-2 mark last year on the back of a dominating defense, as the Illini allowed a mere 12 goals on the season.

If the team''s season opener against Missouri on Sunday was any indication, the offense is ready to share the load in 2004.

Local connection prepped for opener

CHAMPAIGN – As the Illinois women''s soccer team watched the U.S. Olympic team win the gold medal on Thursday, freshman Ella Masar was in the back bouncing a ball and generally acting fidgety.

It wasn''t so much anxiety about the U.S. team''s nail-biting victory. The Urbana native is a bundle of energy, and she''s boiling over with excitement about today''s 1 p.m. opener with Missouri.

Hurless leads way

Senior Tara Hurless scored two goals and sophomores Jessica Bayne, Eva Strickland and Brittany Ward added one goal apiece as Illinois beat the Illinois Eclipse Select U16 team 5-0 Saturday in Champaign.

Illinois soccer

Exhibition rescheduled

Illinois'' exhibition match against Indiana State was rescheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. Admission is free.

Illinois goalkeeper a finalist for award

Illinois All-American Leisha Alcia is among 25 women''s collegiate soccer players named to the 2004 Hermann Trophy watch list.

The award, sponsored by the Missouri Athletic Club, will be presented to the top player from the upcoming season at a dinner Jan. 8 in St. Louis.

Illinois-bound Masar has found fulfillment on and off soccer field

URBANA – Ella Masar is not a hard person to describe.

Really, it boils down to one simple word: fun.

Illini excited about Mexican challenge

CHAMPAIGN – The Olympic women''s soccer qualifier was supposed to be a slam dunk. The U.S. and Canadian teams were favored heavily to advance.

But only half of them made it. The Americans won March''s CONCACAF title in Costa Rica. But Canada was upset 2-1 in the semifinal by Mexico. The Canadians aren''t going to Athens.

Urbana star Masar already celebrating her return

URBANA – As much as Ur-bana''s Ella Masar has accomplished on the soccer field, there''s one thing she hasn''t been able to do: stay healthy.

For opponents, that''s the really scary part. The Illinois recruit scored an area-record 40 goals last season and is eight shy of breaking Katie Stephens'' school record of 86. But her career has been plagued by a painful condition in her legs, an ailment that extends back to her sophomore year.

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