Just like in many situations last year, the Illinois State soccer team was unable to dig out of an early deficit. ISU lost a pair of weekend matches to Big Ten opponents.
The Wisconsin Badgers got their only goal of the night three minutes into the match and held off a late charge for a 1-0 win over the Redbirds in the first game of the 2016 season. It also began Illinois State’s twentieth season with a women’s soccer program.
Wisconsin forward Dani Rhodes got the Badgers’ goal in her first appearance with the team. And for the remainder of the first half, Wisconsin took control by out shooting the Redbirds 14-3.
These problems were similar to a significant statistic from the previous year. In 2015, they gave up fourteen goals while only scoring seven in the first half of all of their games. In regards to facing an early deficit in this game, Coach Eric Golz thinks his team just came out a little too nervous.
“I thought we were just mentally a little bit timid from the beginning,” Golz said. “I think from an execution perspective we were really sloppy in our marking on set plays. It was preventable goal and certainly not the way you want to start your season.”
In the second half, they came out with a lot more energy and aggressiveness. But Wisconsin was still able to hold on and take the match. A few days later, Illinois State would once again suffer a similar fate.
Sunday, August 21: 1-0 Loss vs. Illinois
Just like the Badgers did on opening night, the Illinois Fighting Illini got a 1-0 win over the Redbirds on a goal in the first half.
This time, it was Senior Allison Stucky that got the golden goal for the Illini. She would put them ahead at the 30 minute mark of the match.
The Redbirds once again had an opportunity to tie the game in the second half. Lauren Koehl was given a penalty kick, but Illinois goalkeeper Michelle Denley was able to make the biggest of her ten saves in the match.
ISU was able to outshoot the Illini on goal ten to four. But the team has still yet to score a goal this season. This is the last thing Golz was hoping to see, as one his biggest goals of the year was to improve offensive production.
While the offense was not able to get onto the scoreboard, the defense put on another good showing. These first two games have been an improvement for this unit in that department when comparing it to 2015. Last season, the Redbirds gave up six goals in their first game against Ohio State. If the Redbirds’ defense continues to be this consistent, they will eventually be on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to these 1-0 decisions.
Illinois State will continue their quest for its first victory of the season when they host Marquette this Thursday at 7 p.m.