Junior Niki Read notched a hat trick and added one assist to account for seven points against Ball State.
Aug. 26, 2011
MUNCIE, Ind. - The No. 19 nationally-ranked University of Illinois soccer team cruised past Ball State in their first road game of the season, 5-0, on Friday afternoon. Junior Niki Read had a career-day against the Cardinals, finishing with three goals and an assist in only 53 minutes of action. Sophomore Vanessa DiBernardo and freshman Stephanie Pouse each added one tally during the blowout, with DiBernardo securing the eventual game-winner.
"Any time you play on an artificial surface it takes time to get used to it, the way the ball bounces; it took time to settle in," Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said. "However, once we did that, we were able to maintain possession and get players faced-up in the attacking third. We proved to be dangerous again [on the attack], finding the back of net. It was definitely a bit of a challenge finding rhythm, but it was good we fought through it and found it."
DiBernardo, the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, got the Illini on the board in the 25th-minute. The Naperville, Ill., native received a pass from Read as DiBernardo rushed behind the Ball State defense. With only the Cardinals goalkeeper, Layne Schramm, to beat, DiBernardo blasted a shot past Schramm from eight yards away to break the scoreless tie.
"We have talked about seizing moments to turn the heat up, and scoring first is one of those moments," Rayfield said. "It was a great response to score a goal against a team that was making it difficult to find a rhythm, and then we find the back of the net again. It is really important to find ways to use rhythm to our advantage, and it is something we didn't do against Toledo. Again, I am pleased to see that response and mentality. This is a team that wants to go after it and wants to see itself become an attack-oriented team. These are moments that define that personality."
Only two and a half minutes later, Read tallied her first goal of the contest to double the Illinois lead. With the Ball State defense controlling possession outside its goalie box, Read caused a turnover and converted a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box for her second goal of the season. Read earned her second goal of the game two minutes later at the 30:25 mark. Read controlled the ball on the wing before cutting into the center of the field. As Read raced into the 18-yard box, the Lake Orion, Mich., native placed a low shot into the corner for her first collegiate multi-goal game and a 3-0 advantage entering halftime.
"Niki [Read] had a great day," Rayfield said. "One thing we talked about before the game was that we need to make sure we put shots on frame. Every time you line up and put it on frame it gives you the chance to score a couple great goals, and Niki being able to just put her shot on frame made something happen."
Read continued to dominate the Ball State (1-2-0 overall) defense in the second half, becoming the ninth Illini to record three goals in a single game. In the 66th minute, Read maneuvered around the only defender between her and the goal and connected on a shot from just outside the top of the goalie box. With the third goal, Read became the first Illini with three or more tallies in a game since DiBernardo earned four against Purdue on Oct. 1, 2010. Read also tied the mark for the second-most points (7) in a single contest with the third strike of the game.
"When you have a team with so many threats, every game will be someone different," said Read on finding success against the Ball State defense on Friday. "I guess today was my day to score some goals. I had a lot of one-vs.-one plays and I took my shots, just focusing on getting them on-frame, and they went in."
To reach the final score, Pouse added her first collegiate goal in the 88th minute. Pouse secured a turnover from the Ball State defense and blasted a 25-yard shot over Schramm. With the fifth goal, the Illini have scored five or more tallies in three consecutive games for the first time in program history.
Junior Steph Panozzo started in goal for the Illini, turning aside two shots to secure her first collegiate individual shutout and fifth collegiate win. Illinois held a 24-6 shots advantage and totaled five corner kicks to Ball State's three. The Illini placed 10 shots on-target while the defense limited the Cardinals to only two attempts on-frame.
"Jenna Carosio's defensive presence and Jackie Guerra's work-rate in the midfield [were difference-makers today]," Rayfield said. "Guerra has shown consistently that her work-rate in the middle of the field will help us defensively, as does Nicole Denenberg winning balls in the air. Today, it was a real team effort, but Jenna's ability to come in and organize and lead out of the back was a huge piece in terms of ability and communication from a defensive stand point, and she helped influence this attacking unit with her presence."
The Orange and Blue (3-0-0) continue their road swing with a Sunday, Aug. 28, contest at the University of Louisville (1-0-0), with the game set to begin at noon CT.