Emily Brown scored the first of the Illini's two goals in the win over Michigan State
Sept. 24, 2000
Champaign, Ill. - Illinois women's soccer returned to action Sunday with a vengeance. Setting the tone from the opening kickoff, the Illini defeated previously unbeaten Michigan State, 2-1, in Champaign in front of a crowd of 393 fans.
The Spartans (7-1-1, 2-1) were coming off an overtime win at Iowa two days before, while the Illini limped in after a 2-0 loss at Illinois State just 48 hours earlier. The Friday match a distant memory, the Illini set out to send a message to the rest of the league and get back on the right track.
"It was a fantastic game," said Illinois Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro. "We really stepped it up and came together as a team. When you come to our home field, it's not supposed to be easy to get out with a win. That's something we should be known for, that it's always going to be a tough game. No one should take this team lightly."
Illinois out-shot Michigan State, 29-5, including a 14-2 edge in shots on goal. Illinois won a heavy majority of the 50-50 balls and took advantage of two scoring opportunities. Like an army attacking the enemy, the Illini bombarded Michigan State with shot after shot. While Illinois managed six corner kicks, Michigan State got its only chance as time was running out in the second half.
Emily Brown took advantage of space in the midfield to fire a booming shot for 25-30 yards out that went untouched until it reached the back of the net. Brown's fifth goal of the year coming a 22:44 made it 1-0 Illinois. The Illini, who allowed only one shot in the first half-- that coming off a direct kick -- ended the first period with a flurry. The final attack came with just 38 seconds on the clock. Hollie Schurr beat a defender down the left side of the field, penetrated the box and found Lindsay Johnson for another tally, making it 2-0.
Michigan State made it interesting with a goal just 3:12 into the second half. Tiffany Laskowski sent a lob from 20 yards that sailed into the top shelf of the net, making it 2-1.
MSU managed just one more shot on goal the rest of the game and had to fight off many other Illini attacks. The final real chance for the Spartans came with just over ten minutes to play, but Colleen Joyce kicked out a loose ball in the box, and the Illini played defensive soccer successfully the rest of the way.
How does this win stack up to others in Illinois history? "I'd rank it high," said Taliaferro. "It was an emotional game. The way that we bounced back from Illinois State was important for our season. This was a huge win for us. I'm going to enjoy every minute of it."
Illinois (2-1, 6-3) now sets its sights on setting the all-time attendance record on Friday with Northwestern coming town for a 7 p.m. match. With two wins this weekend, the Illini could set a school record for Big Ten victories. As for the match-up with the Wildcats,
Taliaferro guaranteed an entertaining night for the fans. "When Northwestern and Illinois play, it's a knockdown drag out war for bragging rights. I'm glad they're coming here after playing up there for two straight years."