CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois soccer’s season is underway, and with a win and loss under its belt, the team is turning to its defense for a source of offense.
Right-back freshman Abby Elinsky has wasted no time in making her mark at the collegiate level.
An All-American forward and Gatorade Ohio Girls Soccer Player of the Year in high school, Elinsky has two of the team’s three goals this season, scoring one in each of the team's first two games.
She netted the opener in the 3-1 loss to Notre Dame on Friday and carried that momentum into the team's next game against Louisville, when she scored on a header off a set piece to secure a 2-0 victory for the Illini. She played every minute of both games.
“The weekend went well, we could’ve gotten two wins but I think on the field we worked really well together and I’m excited for this week and the rest of the season,” said Elinksy.
“It’s awesome to be at the next level and still able to get some goals in the back of the net.”
Elinsky, who hadn't been positioned as a defender until coming to Illinois, added that she is embracing the role of right-back and enjoying filling in where needed.
“I never played it before college, so it’s a little different compared to playing up top, but I like it,” she said. “It’s a different role that I have to take on.“
Coach Janet Rayfield has praised her ability to adapt to a new position, while remaining a scoring threat.
“We certainly are looking for opportunities for her to get forward and (for) her to get involved in the attack,” said Rayfield.
“I think she benefits a little bit from the attention that Janelle (Flaws) gets in the box when there’s a lot of people in the box, but I do think we have the flexibility to move her forward when we need some scoring punch ... I think you’ll see her getting forward and getting into the attack, whether we play her forward or continuing to play her as a right-back.”
The Illini's next test will be Friday’s clash against Arizona State, a team coming off a tie and a loss to Texas and Hawaii, respectively.
“We just have to train hard this week, focus and get another win this weekend,” said Elinsky.