Junior defender Emily Zurrer and the Illini defense stifled Northwestern's offensive attack in a 0-0 tie.
Oct. 12, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois soccer team collected its third straight shutout but was unable to put the ball between the posts as the the home team battled to a 0-0 tie against Northwestern in front of 726 fans at the Illinois Soccer Stadium on Friday. With her sixth shutout of the season, goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens has 23 career shutouts and is just one shy of tying the career shutout record set by current assistant coach Leisha Alcia.
"Tonight I didn't think that we got the quality of opportunities that we've had in the past," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "We took 20 shots, but we didn't get the quality opportunities. Credit Northwestern. They dropped and made it really difficult for us to get behind them and get to the endline. That's something we have to solve. If teams are going to drop as we attack, we have to get a little more creative to get behind them."
The game was a seesaw affair, as the first half was mostly a midfield battle. The Illini came out aggressively to open the second half, as sophomore midfielder Courtney Bell narrowly missed on a long-range shot that hit the crossbar in the 52nd minute. While Illinois dominated possession through the beginning of the second half, Northwestern began to gain momentum later in the half. Wildcat forward Krystal Patterson broke through the Illinois defense and had a one v. one against Carstens in the 71st minute, but her shot sailed to the left to keep the game scoreless.
The battle continued into the first overtime, as Illinois had another scoring opportunity taken away by the Northwestern defense. Senior defender Kristy Weeks drove the ball down the right flank for the Illini before turning at the endline and passing back to senior forward Ella Masar. Masar fired a shot but Wildcat goalkeeper Lauren Johnston dove to her left to make the grab and keep the game going.
Senior defender Emily Zurrer returned the favor midway through the second overtime. Northwestern forward Kelsey Hans took the ball down the left side of the field and was angling for a shot inside the 18 when Zurrer slid in to knock the ball away.
"We say all the time that we are a great defensive team," Rayfield said. "Every once in a while, we have to call on Emily (Zurrer) to put on the Superman shirt. Right there at the end of overtime, she made a great sliding save in the box."
Illinois out-shot its ninth consecutive opponent with a 20-9 advantage over Northwestern. The Illini also out-cornered the Wildcats, 5-1.
Friday's match snaps Illinois' 11-game scoring streak, one game shy of the record of 12 straight games with at least one goal that the Illini set in 2001 and matched in 2005. The tie also marks the first since Oct. 16, 2005, when Illinois and Michigan State played to a 0-0 draw.
Illinois returns to the field on Sunday at 1 p.m., hosting Wisconsin at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. Sunday's match will feature Illinois Student Day, with games and prizes for all Illinois students, in addition to a can food drive sponsored by the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.