College Soccer

Illinios Soccer Upsets No. 11 Rutgers, 2-1

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Champaign, Ill. – Fighting Illini Soccer upset No. 11-ranked Rutgers on Thursday evening, Sept. 24, handing the Scarlet Knights their first loss of the season. Junior Allison Stucky put in the first goal for the Illini, marking the first goal surrendered by Rutgers this season, while sophomore Kara Marbury secured the 2-1 victory for the Orange and Blue. The Illini improve to 7-2-1 overall and 1-1-1 in conference play, while Rutgers falls to 8-1-0 and 1-1-0 on the season. 

“This is a great win for us,” head coach Janet Rayfield said of Thursday’s victory. “You have a team that’s not only undefeated but un-scored on. I’m not only proud of the win, but I’m proud of the way that we played tonight. I thought we kept the ball well and did some great things. Our defense was great tonight. This {Rutgers} was also a team that has some great goal scorers and I think our ability to drop and keep them off the scoreboard for most of the game was as important as us being able to score two goals against them.”

The Illini were ready to match up against the undefeated Rutgers squad right from get-go. Illinois was dominant offensively to start the half, firing four shots before even allowing Rutgers a look at the net. Both teams were able to get seven shots off in the first half of play, however, each firing three on goal. In the 16th minute of the game, redshirt senior Jannelle Flaws was able to put the moves on a few Rutgers defenders to create a possible scoring opportunity but the Orange and Blue weren’t able to get the shot off. Not to worry, however, as sophomore Kara Marbury found her own scoring opportunity with a shot that went wide right just a few seconds later. 

Just 10 minutes before the halftime clock, junior goalkeeper Claire Wheatley denied Rutgers’ Colby Ciarrocca with a diving save to keep the game scoreless heading into the break. Wheatley finished with six saves on the game, earning her seventh win of the season. 

Stucky wasted no time after the halftime break, as just five minutes in she was able to find the back of the net. The play started with a corner kick, taken by Hope D’Addario. After the kick, Marbury flicked it to the near post where Stucky was waiting to capitalize. The score marks Stucky’s second of the season.

Rutgers put on the offensive pressure after the first goal, scoring one of their own in the 54th minute of play. With the score tied at 1-1, Illinois remained strong defensively to shut out the Scarlet Knights for the rest of the game. 

Marbury’s game-winner found its way into the back of the net in the 81st minute of play; senior Nicole Breece played the ball to Flaws, who was waiting inside the 18. Flaws passed it outside to Marbury who fired it just outside the keeper’s reach. The goal is Marbury’s second of the season. Flaws earned her fifth assist on the year as well, which bumped the redshirt senior’s career points tally up to 115 to tie the current school record held by Tara Hurless. 

“It feels awesome,” Marbury said of earning the win. “Rutgers is a great team, and this is the win that we wanted.” We left our hearts on the field tonight; we played as hard as we could. We fought, Rutgers fought, and we came out on top. That’s an awesome feeling”

The win marks Illinois first victory over a top-15 opponent since upsetting No. 7 Portland in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. It is the third win over a top-25 opponent earned by the Illini in the past three seasons as well. 

The Illini will host Maryland on Sunday, in a 1 p.m. match. The game will mark the annual SoccerFest event, which begins at noon. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as the first 500 will receive a free Illini soccer scarf. There will be a bounce house and facepainting for fans before the game, and a chance to participate in soccer skills challenges. Kids in eighth grade and younger are encouraged to sign up for the free youth clinic after the game as well. Sign up information can be found here. 

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