Goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens (above) and goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka combined for two shutouts in Illinois' exhibition season.
Aug. 26, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 20 Illinois soccer team concluded the exhibition season with a 1-0 win over the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers Sunday in front of a crowd of 441 fans at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium. Freshman Jordan Hilbrands netted the game-winning goal for the Illini on a pass from sophomore Chichi Nweke to give the Illini the victory.
Illinois shutout its second straight opponent thanks to another strong defensive performance in which they allowed four Panther shots and just two shots-on-goal throughout the match.
"We played a little bit better defensively today," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "We looked at a couple of different combinations and still held our own defensively. We've still got a few kinks to work out, but with two shutouts, including one today against a team picked to win the Horizon League, I think we have to take that as a positive sign."
The Illini offense stepped up as well, firing 16 shots with six on frame and out-cornering the Panthers, 11-2. The Orange and Blue controlled the game early, capitalizing on an opportunity in the 19th minute when Nweke took the ball down the left flank of the field before finding Hilbrands inside the six-yard box. After beating the goalkeeper, Hilbrands fired the ball into the goal to give the Illini a 1-0 edge. Hilbrands entered the game after Ella Masar was shaken up after a hard tackle. Masar is expected to be ready for Friday's season opener.
"The ball got through and with defensive pressure coming, [Hilbrands] took the touch to put herself between the defender and the goal," Rayfield said. "That takes courage and a goal-scoring mentality. To see that from a freshman and to see something we worked on in practice come through in a game was the biggest bright spot of that goal."
Up Next: With the exhibition season over, the Illini now set their sights on the upcoming weekend, as they open the regular season with two home matches. The Illini host the Tigers on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium and the Little Illini Soccer Club will help Illinois kick off the season. All LISC members are free if they pre-register. The Orange and Blue round out the weekend, welcoming Xavier on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. Sunday's match will feature a Labor Day Special, with tickets available to everyone for $2.