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Women’s soccer opens Big Ten play with 1-1 draw against Illinois

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Senior defender Megan Fuller (20) attempts to clear the ball during a match against Illinois Sept. 20 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The teams tied, 1-1. Credit: Michele Theodore / Copy Chief

Senior defender Megan Fuller (20) attempts to clear the ball during a match against Illinois Sept. 20 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The teams tied, 1-1.
Credit: Michele Theodore / Copy Chief

The Ohio State women’s soccer team played to a 1-1 draw in double overtime with Illinois in its Big Ten opener.

A late goal in the 84th minute by sophomore forward Michela Paradiso helped OSU recover from an early deficit against the Fighting Illini.

The Buckeyes allowed a goal in the seventh minute when redshirt-junior forward Jannelle Flaws buried a strike to the upper left corner from 20 yards out.

Captain and senior defender Megan Fuller said the Buckeyes could do better out of the gate.

“It’s disappointing we didn’t come out with a goal,” Fuller said. “So there is room to improve.”

OSU’s slow start cost them, as the Illini outshot the Buckeyes 9-8 during the first half.

After the break, OSU came out with a new attack and it seemed to work, playing with three forwards as opposed to two. Freshman midfielder Alexis Degler fired three shots and junior forward Kayla Varner recorded two, but narrowly missed scoring each time.

Varner said she was just happy the Buckeyes could attack so much.

“Getting there, for me, is good right now,” Varner said. “Obviously, I need to work on finishing, but I’ll keep working on that.”

In the 84th minute, Paradiso received a through ball into the box from junior midfielder Ellyn Gruber. Paradiso one-touched the ball into the back of the net, tying the game.

“It was my first career goal so it was great to get it out of the way,” Paradiso said.

The Illini attack had come to a halt as they were out-shot by OSU 13-5 in the second half.

In overtime, the best opportunity for the Buckeyes to score came in the 97th minute when freshman forward Nichelle Prince headed the ball toward upper right corner of the goal. Illinois’ senior goalkeeper Lauren Parkin came up with the diving save, though, to keep the game alive.

This was the third match this season for the Buckeyes that went into overtime. Paradiso said the extended matchups are challenging.

“It’s tough to play 110 (minutes) in the Big Ten,” Paradiso said.

Varner said the team’s youth will help it grow as the team moves forward with its Big Ten schedule.

“We have a young team, (for) some of them it’s their first time playing (in the Big Ten),” Varner said. “We’re just going to get better from here.”

The draw drops the Buckeyes record to 6-1-2 overall. The team’s next match is scheduled against Indiana and is set for 3 p.m. Thursday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

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