Illini freshman Courtney Bell scored Illinois' first goal and assisted on Eva Strickland's game-winner as the #19 Illini downed Wisconsin 4-2.
Sept. 22, 2006
MADISON, Wis. - No. 19 Illinois won its second-straight match, taking care of Wisconsin 4-2 in the teams' Big Ten opener. Senior forward Eva Strickland scored the game-winning goal for the Illini, who improved to 5-4-0 overall, 1-0-0 in the Big Ten. Freshman forward/midfielder Courtney Bell scored her second goal of the season and notched her first career assist as Illinois scored its most goals against the Badgers in program history and second-most in a conference opener.
"Offensively, the numbers we had and the decisions we made in the final third were really good," Illinois coach Janet Rayfield said. "We did a very good job of capitalizing on the chances we created."
Bell (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) opened the scoring in the seventh minute when she converted a Kristy Weeks (N. Vancouver, B.C.) corner kick at 6:21, putting the Illini up 1-0. But Wisconsin's Ann Eshun tied the match in the 23rd minute when she scored unassisted. Illinois ensured a halftime lead when Mary Therese McDonnell (Orland Park, Ill.) scored off a ball from Chichi Nweke (Virginia Beach, Va.) at 28:24, pushing the Illini ahead 2-1.
Illinois then added to its lead in the 50th minute when Strickland (Seattle, Wash.) converted a serve from Bell for her second career game-winner. Illini midfielder Marti Desjarlais then scored her second goal of the season less than nine minutes later at 58:18 off a serve from Ella Masar (Urbana, Ill.) and a flick from Strickland. The Badgers' Kara Kabellis managed to get free at 35 yards in the 69th minute and put in her second goal of 2006, but it wasn't enough as the Illini finished off the 4-2 win.
"On their first goal, we over-focused on Kabellis off the restart a little bit, then when the ball squirted through they had an easy chance," Rayfield said. "And the second goal just shows why she's an All-Big Ten player. She has one chance in 90 minutes and she puts it away."
The storyline of the match was maximizing opportunities, as Illinois put eight of its 11 shots on frame, scoring on four, while Wisconsin had just three shots on goal out of 11, scoring on two.
"To start the Big Ten scoring four goals on a team that hadn't given up more than two in a match all year is pretty good," Rayfield said. "It shows something about our offense and about how the schedule we played has prepared us for this conference."
The Illini return to action Sunday at Northwestern at 3 p.m. The Wildcats (5-4-0, 1-0-0) defeated Iowa 1-0 Friday in a match called in the 72nd minute because of a tornado warning and eventually darkness.