Senior forward Jessica Levitt notched her first goal of the season in Illinois' 3-0 win over Washington.
Sept. 21, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 23 Illinois soccer team (6-3) tallied three goals in the first half against the Washington Huskies (7-1) en route to a 3-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium. Senior defender Emily Zurrer notched the eventual game-winner four minutes into the match, while senior forward Jessica Levitt and junior forward Chichi Nweke each added a goal.
The Illini continued their dominance at home, extending the winning streak to 11 games. The Orange and Blue have shut out their opponent 10 times during the span, including three this season.
"Goals are hard to come by, so when you get one early it definitely allows you to relax," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "We came out ready to play and our ball movement had (Washington) chasing us. Getting a couple of goals early, especially with an undefeated team, set a tone that they're not used to."
Illinois immediately set an aggressive tone when Zurrer headed in her second goal of the season on a corner kick from junior midfielder Courtney Bell. It was Zurrer's second game-winning goal of the season.
The Illini continued their offensive attack 10 minutes later when Levitt notched her first goal of the season. Nweke slotted a pass to Levitt from the left and she rifled the ball from 16 yards into the right corner of the net to give Illinois a 2-0 lead.
Nweke continued to cause problems for the Huskies defense in the 32nd minute when she put away her team-leading fourth goal of the season. Sophomore midfielder Cory Steigerwald drove down the field before passing to sophomore forward Jordan Hilbrands on the right. Hilbrands drew Washington keeper Alex Phillips from between the posts before tapping the ball back to Nweke on the left side, where she buried a shot from the six to go up 3-0.
"We started with a quick rhythm of play and that's something we've been trying to do, switching the ball from one side to the other," Rayfield said. "That's picture-book of the way we're going to be the most effective playing soccer. It's good to see us do that and finish one on the end of it."
Despite being out-shot 8-3 by the Huskies in the second half, Illinois preserved the shutout thanks to some impressive stops by goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka. Kapicka finished the day with a career-high six saves.
With the conclusion of non-conference play, Illinois hits the road to kickoff the Big Ten portion of the season. The Illini travel to Wisconsin on Friday, Sept. 26 for a 7 p.m. match, then wrap up the weekend at Northwestern at noon.
"We've put this team through a challenging road schedule," Rayfield said. "Coming back home and knocking off two undefeated opponents, getting two shutouts and scoring three goals on a team that had only given up three all season means we've tested ourselves and corrected some things, so hopefully the team is ready to head into Big Ten season."