Women's Soccer
Illini Nab First Win in 5-4 Overtime Victory at Louisville

Freshman Meegan Johnston's first collegiate goal was the game-winner in overtime at Louisville on Sunday.
Freshman Meegan Johnston's first collegiate goal was the game-winner in overtime at Louisville on Sunday.

Aug 25, 2013

Box Score | Printable Box Score | Rayfield Interview | Johnston Interview

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In a back-and-forth contest at Cardinal Park Soccer Stadium, five different Illini scored goals, capped off by the game-winner from freshman Meegan Johnston that clinched Illinois' 5-4 overtime win at Louisville (1-1). The Orange and Blue, who scored the first and final goal on Sunday, overcame a 2-1 halftime deficit with three goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but the Cardinals tied it at four in the 89th minute. The extra period didn't reach four minutes, as Johnston's first collegiate goal gave Illinois (1-1) its first win in 2013.

"Meegan has a cannon with both feet and certainly showed it at the end of the game today," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "It wasn't the way we drew it up in the locker room, but we will take the win. Offensively, we did some really good things, but defensively, we have some things we need to figure out."

Illinois improved to 5-0 in school history against Louisville, as five Illini notched their first goal of 2013. Redshirt-junior Jannelle Flaws (13') put the Illini on the board with their only tally in the first half, while sophomore Nicole Breece (51') evened it 2-2 in the second half. After a penalty kick goal by the Cardinals made it 3-2, senior Vanessa DiBernardo (56') tied it at three and assisted on the first career goal by sophomore Anastasia Medellin (61') off a corner kick. Johnston (94') sealed the victory just 3:29 into the overtime period with a blast into the upper right corner from nearly 30 yards out.

"We had a great possession prior to the goal," Johnston said. "The team was moving around a lot, and it just so happened that I was in the perfect spot for the ball and put it in the back of the net. It was all due to our teamwork."

Illinois, which controlled the possession for the opening 13 minutes and tallied the first four shots, jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a goal by Flaws at the 12:57 mark. The Glenview, Ill., native won the ball outside the box and immediately sent a dart into the bottom-left corner past a diving keeper. Flaws, who missed the 2012 season due to injury, notched her fourth career goal and first since 2011 against Michigan (Oct. 29).

Just over a minute later, Louisville responded and evened it up 1-1 on the header goal by Casey Whitfield (15') off a left-sided cross by Erin Yenney. The Cardinals scored on their first shot of the game at the 14:01 mark. Midway through the first half in the 26th minute, the Louisville attack launched two shots at freshman goalkeeper Claire Wheatley inside the box and eventually connected on the third try, taking a 2-1 lead off the rebounded goal.

Illinois trailed 2-1 at halftime, as the Cardinals also held a slight edge in shots (9-8) and shots on goals (6-5). Both keepers made four saves in the opening frame, and UI had two corner kicks compared to one for U of L.

Five minutes into the second half, sophomore Nicole Breece beat the defense on a perfect throw-in from Johnston, which set up the tying goal. The St. Louis, Mo., native dribbled through the box and struck it from the left side back to the bottom-right corner of the net.

Less than a minute later, Louisville scored on a penalty kick after a handball was called in the box, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 advantage in the 52nd minute.

DiBernardo responded in the 56th minute when she corralled the ball at the top of the box and launched a shot over the keeper's head into the top-right corner that knotted it up at three apiece. The Naperville, Ill., native collected her first goal of the season and 37th of her career, which ranks third in program history and 10 shy of the school record held by Tara Hurless (47).

The Illini retook the lead for the first time since the 14th minute thanks to DiBernardo's corner kick in the 61st minute. Medellin flicked in the cross to put the Illini ahead 4-3 as the UL defender failed to deflect it out in time.

The game was scoreless over the next 28 minutes before Louisville's late charge resulted in a rebounded goal off an initial shot that hit the crossbar with 88:29 on the clock. The fourth tie of the game made it 4-4 and sent Illinois' second game of the year to overtime, where it quickly ended on the golden goal off Johnston's foot.

The final stats reflected the evenly played match, with Louisville leading in shots (18-17), Illinois holding the edge in saves (7-4), and corner kicks and fouls both being equal at four.

Up Next: Illinois will host its home opener on Friday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. against College of Charleston. The Illini will face Illinois State on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.