Junior midfielder Niki Read earned her sixth assist of the season against Minnesota, tying her best single-season total set in 2010.
Oct. 14, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois soccer squad shutout Minnesota, 1-0, at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium on Friday evening, the third consecutive one-goal clean sheet victory of the season for the Illini. Sophomore midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo tallied the lone mark of the contest, the seventh game-winner for the Naperville, Ill., native on the season.
"It wasn't a pretty victory," Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said. "We talked about this being a battle for us to be able to play the style we wanted to play. We did not really get to do that, so the game became a fight, while the ball was in the air and bouncing a lot. Fortunately, in the first half we got the ball on the ground a little bit, made a run out of the midfield, and Niki [Read] served a great ball to Vanessa [DiBernardo], who put the goal away. We made that one stand out and you have to give a lot of credit to the defense for another shutout in the Big Ten."
DiBernardo broke the scoreless tie in the 19th minute, tallying her 13th goal of the season to reach 30 points on the year. Junior midfielder Niki Read controlled play 35 yards from the net in the center of the field and lofted a pass over the Minnesota defense and into the box. DiBernardo ran onto the ball and placed a shot low and into the left side netting, past the dive of Gophers goalkeeper Cat Parkhill.
With 70 minutes of action remaining in the contest following the goal, the Illinois defense clamped down to make DiBernardo's mark hold up, limiting Minnesota to one on-target attempt over the remainder of the contest. Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo turned aside both shots placed on net, including an acrobatic save in the early-going to keep the contest scoreless. Gophers midfielder Taylor Uhl earned a look on net in the 10th minute from the left side of the 18-yard box, with only Panozzo to beat. The freshman from Eden Prairie, Minn., fired a line drive shot headed for the far post; however, Panozzo adjusted to the play perfectly to deny the attempt.
"Just a lot of effort," said Rayfield on how the defense held its third consecutive opponent scoreless. "Steph [Panozzo] made a couple of big time saves in terms of keeping us in the game. You have to like the effort of Shayla Mutz sliding at the end to really seal the victory. She was inside, probably eight to ten yards away. [The play was] probably too far away for Steph to come to, Minnesota was getting ready to shoot on a pretty wide net, and Shayla makes that sliding tackle. It was the same kind of tackle Jenna [Carosio] made against Michigan State, and we have talked about it being that kind of defensive effort that gets you a shutout in the Big Ten. It is great to see that from different players and not just our back three, but all of our team."
Shots were tied, 12-12; however Illinois earned more on-target attempts, 7-2. Parkhill tallied six saves in net while Panozzo stopped both of Minnesota shots struck on-frame. Corner kick opportunities favored Illinois, 5-2, while the Illini were called for six fouls against five for the Gophers.
The Orange and Blue (10-4-1, 4-2-1) continue their season with SoccerFest 2011 against Wisconsin (8-4-3, 3-1-3) live on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. CT. There will be inflatable games for children, free food for the first 2,000 fans and it's the third consecutive "Biker Sunday" as all motorcyclists are welcome to come show off their rides and rev their engines when Illinois scores. Admission and parking at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium is free throughout the 2011 season.