No. 21 Illini Continue Streak With Win Over Michigan
Oct. 5, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Sophomore forward Jordan Hilbrands tallied her first career goal late in the second half to lead the No. 21 Illinois soccer team (9-4, 3-1 Big Ten) to a 1-0 victory over the Michigan Wolverines (3-6-4, 0-2-2 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 2,036 fans, the second largest crowd in history, at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium. The win marks the 13th in a row at home for the Illini, including a 6-0 record this season, and the 12th shutout during the span.
"We were better in the second half in terms of creating some opportunities," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "Michigan wanted this game to be as slow as they could make it and we let them dictate the pace of the game. We wanted to play faster, move the ball and make them chase a little more. They wanted to spend as little energy as possible, and we wanted to demand a little more energy from them. We did an okay job of that in the second half, but I think it could still be better."
The first half proved a struggle for both offensives, as the two teams combined for just four shots in the period. Illinois narrowly missed a couple of chances early in the half, while the Orange and Blue defense held Michigan to just one shot through the first 45 minutes.
The stalemate continued until the 79th minute, when Hilbrands collaborated with sophomore forward Laura Knutson for the game-winning goal. Knutson, in her first game back since injuring her ankle against Washington, flicked the ball to Hilbrands from the left flank. Hilbrands made a sharp move to beat her defender and put the ball in the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. It marked the team-leading fifth assist of the season for Knutson.
"(Knutson) just works hard in there," Rayfield said. "She got the flick, and we finally got the ball in behind them then Jordan finished it. For Jordan to put away the game-winner on a day where we really needed it, that's got to help her confidence."
The Illinois defense shut down the Wolverines in the closing minutes to preserve the shutout. Overall, the Illini out-shot the Wolverines, 11-5, while Michigan edged Illinois, 4-3, in corners.
The Orange and Blue continues Big Ten play with a roadtrip to Iowa and Minnesota. Illinois will take on the Hawkeyes on Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. before wrapping up the weekend against the Gophers on Sunday, October 12, at 1 p.m.