No. 21 Illini Tally Three, Blank Michigan State
Oct. 3, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 21 Illinois soccer team (8-4, 2-1 Big Ten) continued its home dominance, winning its 12th in a row and producing the 11th shutout in the span with a 3-0 victory over the Michigan State Spartans (10-2, 2-1 Big Ten) on Friday night at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium. Freshman forward Marissa Mykines tallied the game-winner, while senior defender Emily Zurrer and junior forward Chichi Nweke each contributed a goal.
"Tonight was a good performance for us to shut out a team that's been scoring goals right and left and has a couple of dynamic players up front," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "We got some goals from different places and it was good to see all of those areas pay off. I've talked to other coaches and they say the scouting report is that (Illinois) just keeps bringing players in and they just keep wearing you down. I think that's definitely a strength of our team."
The two teams looked evenly matched early in the first half until Illinois began to wear on the Spartan defense, taking the upper hand in the 41st minute when Mykines struck for her second goal of the season. Senior forward Charlotte Cooke slotted a pass between defenders to Mykines in the box and she fired a shot from the right corner to give Illinois a 1-0 lead heading into the half.
Illini goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka and the defense were impressive on the other side of the ball as well. Kapicka had a pair of impressive stops in the first half to preserve Illinois' lead and collected three saves overall.
"You want goalkeepers to make those kind of saves to keep you in the game, then the next thing you know you're up 3-0 and put the game away," Rayfield said. "The entire defense did its job because they limited (the Spartans') opportunities, and the couple of opportunities they had, Alex came up big. That's how you have to play a team like that."
The Illini attack didn't let up in the second half, capitalizing on the 12-2 corner advantage in the match as Zurrer tallied her third goal of the season in the 74th minute on a restart. Sophomore defender Danielle Kot launched a corner kick into the box where Zurrer punched the ball in with her head to give the Illini a 2-0 cushion.
The Orange and Blue took advantage of another restart goal just five minutes later. Kot again took the corner and found the head of junior midfielder Jackie Santacaterina, who headed the ball to the feet of Nweke to tap in for her team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Illinois looks to continue the streak on Sunday, hosting the Michigan Wolverines at 1 p.m. at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium. Sunday's match features the annual SoccerFest event, with free food, live entertainment, inflatable games and free admission to the match. Gates open at 11:30 a.m.