CHAMPAIGN — Illinois’ prospects looked good through most of the first half of Friday’s season opener against Notre Dame.
The Illini had a 1-0 lead on freshman Abby Elinsky’s first career goal, and their defense — the focal point of spring and fall preseason practices — was getting stops against a persistent Irish attack.
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield had to do some early season scrambling to fill out her starting lineup when junior midfielder Taylore Peterson was ruled out for the year after tearing her right ACL in practice Tuesday.
On the Illini
Illinois held a late 2-0 lead on Indiana State in its lone exhibition Sunday.
The goal scorers? A pair of sophomores.
CHAMPAIGN — The question marks for the Illinois soccer defense are there, but dwindling. Plenty of returning starters, including goalkeeper Claire Wheatley, and an offseason full of shoring up that back line have the Illini moving in the right direction.
In the Janet Rayfield era, Illinois soccer has outscored opponents 11 out of the past 12 seasons — by an average of nearly 12 goals each year.
In 2013, Illinois scored 54 goals, its most under Rayfield and a number buoyed by Jannelle Flaws’ program-record 23 tallies.
But the Illini also gave up 50, which stands as the most in Rayfield’s dozen seasons.
CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois soccer team could play just its Big Ten schedule and still probably rank among the nation’s top teams in terms of its overall strength.
The Big Ten will play a 13-match conference slate this season with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers. That could change in 2015, but for this fall at least, a true Big Ten champion will be crowned.