Illini Can't Complete Comeback, Fall to Huskers, 3-2
Sept. 29, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois mounted a second-half comeback and tied it thanks to two goals by redshirt-junior Jannelle Flaws, but Nebraska tallied the game-winning goal in the 61st minute, as the Illini fell 3-2 to the Huskers in front of 1,526 fans at SoccerFest on Sunday. Flaws scored twice in under a minute and a half, giving her 12 goals on the season, which is tied for the most in the Big Ten.
"We fought back from down two goals, but I'm disappointed in the mental lapses," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "We gave up a goal right at the start of the second half and then we let someone run in the box unmarked right after we worked our tails off to get back to 2-2. I think we relaxed and you just can't do that in the Big Ten. Every second in the Big Ten matters."
In the 15th minute, Nebraska jumped on the board first with a goal from the top of the box by Sydney Miramontez. The Huskers carried the 1-0 lead into halftime following an evenly-played opening frame in which each team took seven shots.
After the break, the Huskers scored 23 seconds into the second half on the first of two goals by Mayme Conroy, who flicked in a right-sided cross just inside the near post. Trailing 2-0, the Illini battled back quickly with the pair of goals by Flaws.
With 51:45 on the clock, Flaws found the back of the net from the right side of the box off the ball played ahead by sophomore Taylore Peterson, who earned her first assist of the year. A minute and 27 seconds later, Flaws sidestepped the keeper on the right side of the box and came up with the equalizer off the fourth career assist by freshman Casey Conine. The Glenview, Ill., native kept pace with Penn State's Maya Hayes for the Big Ten lead in goals with 12.
"Janelle found a couple of ways to get in behind them, and we had a couple of chances off of that," Rayfield said. In terms of adapting to their defensive organization and solving that, we did an alright job. From an attacking point, in solving them, we had two great goals and a couple of chances and those are the kind of things you want in the Big Ten."
The Huskers struck last with the header goal by Conroy off the ball played into the box by Caroline Gray. The conference contest was scoreless over the final 29 minutes after Nebraska grabbed the 3-2 lead.
"Our fitness for the players that are playing 90 minutes is there physically, but we have to get it there mentally as well," Rayfield said. "Today I think we had some mental lapses and some moments of panic. We just need to have a better mental fitness and psychological fitness through these games to pull out a game that is so tight and is a battle back and forth. It's a mentally fatiguing game and we didn't deal with that as well as we needed to."
The Illini, who were playing without senior Vanessa DiBernardo due to an injury, had chances late in the game with a pair of shots that sailed just over the crossbar by sophomore Reagan Robishaw, but they couldn't connect on the equalizer again. Flaws took a game-high seven shots, as Illinois outshot Nebraska, 19-17, and finished with a 7-0 advantage on corner kicks.
Illinois fell for the first time at home (5-1) this season and sits at 6-3-2 overall and 1-1-1 in the Big Ten. Nebraska won its sixth game in a row and improved to 8-2-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. The attendance of 1,526 fans ranks as the fifth largest in school history, meaning seven of the top eight biggest single-game home crowds have come at SoccerFest.
Up Next: The Illini will hit the road for a pair of Big Ten games next weekend when they face Purdue on Friday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. followed by an 11 a.m. game on Sunday, Oct. 6 at Indiana.