Quick strikes lead Illini

URBANA– Freshman Emily Zurrer and Urbana product Ella Masar scored 44 seconds apart, and Christen Karniski added a goal and an assist to lead Illinois past Illinois State 3-0 on Friday night.

"It definitely was a monkey off Ella's back to finally get a goal," UI coach Janet Rayfield said. "And (Zurrer) was so composed in the box. We trained her up front all spring, and maybe that was a good thing because she just put the ball down and got it in the back of the net."

Illini blank Western Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – Laura Redmond, Natasha Karniski and Marti Desjarlais scored to lead Illinois to a 3-0 victory against Western Illinois on Sunday.

Pride, effort pay off

CHAMPAIGN – Revenge is a strange thing. If you're the Nebraska women's soccer team, revenge hurts. After being beaten dramatically in last season's Sweet 16 by the Illini, Nebraska wanted to give the hurt of last season back to Janet Rayfield's squad.

Not so fast.

Competition drives squad

CHAMPAIGN – They went into the opening weekend with a fresh No. 13 ranking and high hopes of kicking off the season in style before their date with No. 17 Nebraska.

But the Illinois women's soccer team came home from Milwaukee with an 0-1-1 record, no goals and plenty of questions. Coach Janet Rayfield started getting answers in practice this week, and she thinks today's 7 p.m. match with Nebraska – the highest-profile home match of the season – actually will help ease the pressure on the Illini.

Illini offense starts slow

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The No. 13 Illinois soccer team played to a scoreless tie Sunday against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Illinois (0-1-1) outshot the Panthers 18-17 and took six corner kicks to Wisconsin-Milwaukee's two.

Youngsters, goalies shine for Illini

CINCINNATI – Freshmen Emily Zurrer and Charlotte Cooke scored as Illinois beat Cincinnati 4-0 in its final exhibition match. Eva Strickland and Natasha Karniski also scored for the Illini, who got a combined shutout from Lindsey Carstens and Rachel Frank.

Who's that Illini?

I was Illinois soccer's first NSCAA Scholar All-American and also earned first team All-Big Ten and All-Region honors in 2003. I was a two-time team MVP (2002, '03). I started 75 games in my career as a defender.

Rayfield gets extension

CHAMPAIGN – Janet Rayfield, who guided the Illinois women''s soccer team to its most successful season last year, was rewarded with a contract extension.

UI athletic director Ron Guenther announced Friday that Rayfield will remain the Illini''s coach at least through August 2010.

Top female athlete: Hurless wears her Illini pride well

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Not long after the photos were snapped for the Illinois senior athletes of the year special, Tara Hurless went running off to class in full uniform.

The highest-profile Illini soccer player to date was easily recognizable that day. And more people started to recognize the two-time All-American by the end of her brilliant career.

Who''s that Illini?

Until Emily Brown came along, I owned the Illinois soccer team''s record for goals in a season. I scored 14 in 1998, but Brown has since topped me twice. I scored 23 in my career, which ended in 2000, though I never received a team MVP or an All-Big Ten honor.