Illinois Ties Arizona in Tempe, 1-1
Sep 8, 2013
TEMPE, Ariz. - For the second time this weekend, Illinois (3-2-1) went to double overtime, but this time the Illini finished in a 1-1 tie against Arizona (3-0-3) in their final game at the Sun Devil Classic on Sunday. Illinois' lone goal came off a strike by senior Vanessa DiBernardo in the 64th minute, but the Wildcats responded in the 82nd minute with their only goal off a penalty kick.
"We battled today in a physical match," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "It was a big improvement on the defensive end from Friday night. Arizona puts you under pressure and we solved that defensively. Overall, the fight in our team was positive and we got better."
The evenly-played match was scoreless after 45 minutes, as freshman goalkeeper Claire Wheatley kept the Wildcats off the board with four saves on eight shots. The Illini also had half of their shots saved in the opening stanza at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium.
After halftime, Illinois lit up the scoreboard first on an unassisted goal by DiBernardo. The Naperville, Ill., native took a shot from 18 yards out that went through the keeper's hands into the center of the net. The midfielder, who spent time earlier this week with the U.S. Women's National Team, collected her second goal of the weekend and third of the season to put Illinois up 1-0.
"Vanessa got the goal for us, but her overall work rate with getting back on defense was phenomenal," Rayfield said. "She and Taylore Peterson earned their stripes with their play on both ends of the field. That was the story of the weekend. Our midfield defending got much better, which showed today."
With under 10 minutes remaining, the Illini were called for a tough hand ball at the top of the box as a clearance was being made. Arizona then evened it up with a goal off a penalty kick by Jazmin Ponce. It was the only goal allowed, as Illinois' back line of seniors Christina Farrell and Kassidy Brown, sophomore Amy Feher and freshman Casey Conine stepped up throughout the game on the defensive end.
"Christina Farrell had a great weekend," Rayfield said. "She and our whole back line figured the game out collectively and their communication is getting better. We dropped back a lot better and helped out Claire in goal, who is certainly getting more seasoned. She is getting the experience we want her to get."
Illinois outshot Arizona 2-1 in each of the overtime periods, but didn't put any shots on frame, resulting in the first tie of the season for the Illini.
"We weren't as clinical around the goal, but it was a tough game to get numbers in the box," Rayfield said. "We had our opportunities and could have finished a couple more."
Up Next: Illinois will return to Champaign for a pair of matches this weekend. The Illini will square off against Indiana State on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. followed by a noon game on Sunday, Sept. 15 against Florida International.