Iowa soccer ends undefeated streak, loses to Illinois, 2-1
The Iowa women’s soccer team suffered its first loss of the season, falling, 2-1, to Illinois at the Illinois Soccer Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on Sunday.
Illini junior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo and freshman forward Nicole Breece each had goals for the hosts, who snapped the Hawkeyes’ nine-match winning streak in the Big Ten opener for both schools. DiBernardo and head coach Janet Rayfield made their first appearance for Illinois (4-3-1, 1-0-0 Big Ten) this season after spending the first half of the year with the USA U-20 squad.
Hawkeye junior forward Alex Melin notched the lone goal for Iowa (9-1-0, 0-1-0 Big Ten) in the 22nd minute in response to DiBernardo’s tally, but Breece was able to put a ball past Iowa freshman goalkeeper Meg Goodson just six minutes later for the deciding score.
Sophomore Cloe Lacasse entered the contest leading the Hawkeyes in every offensive statistic, but the Illini defense shut down the star forward, keeping her under wraps and off the score sheet. The underclassman was unable to find the back of the net for the first time this season, and she was held without a shot.
The lack of offense beyond Lacasse had been a concern for the Black and Gold through nine games, and the consequences were on full display in Champaign.
The Iowa offense was able to muster only 13 shots, six on net. The Illini, however, overwhelmed their visitors with 28 shots, 10 on goal.
Goodson and fellow freshman goalkeeper Hannah Clark had allowed 3 goals through nine games, and once again, they split duties in front of the net.
This time, however, head coach Ron Rainey’s goalie carrousel fell off the tracks.
Goodson allowed 2 goals in the first 30 minutes of action, making 2 saves on 12 Illini shots during an eventful opening frame. Clark followed protocol by relieving her teammate at halftime and was better, making 6 saves on 16 Illinois shots.
Picking a definitive starting goalie had been a topic of discussion the past couple of weeks for Iowa, and Sunday may have provided the solution.
This is the second-consecutive season in which the Hawkeyes entered Big Ten play with a perfect record, only to have it ruined in the opener by the Illini. Last season, Iowa entered conference play with an 8-0-0 record and played Illinois to a 2-2 draw.
It remains to be seen what adjustments the Hawkeyes make between now and their match against Indiana on Friday, but Sunday’s action left the team searching for answers they hadn’t been posed with during nonconference play.
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