Orange and Blue Rout Northwestern, 3-0
Oct. 20, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - The University of Illinois soccer defense stepped up yet again for the Illini, while the offense capitalized on its chances as the Orange and Blue recorded a 3-0 victory over Northwestern at Lakeside Field on Thursday evening. Illinois' backline produced its fifth consecutive shutout, while senior forward Marissa Mykines, sophomore midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo and junior forward Shayla Mutz recorded tallies for the Illini to secure the win.
"Today was a hard-fought battle with Northwestern at their field and they worked hard," Illinois assistant coach Leisha Alcia said. "Turf is a different surface for us and getting adjusted and finding balance was huge. We had composure in the back, which was important, and I think that was the key for us today."
The Orange and Blue (12-4-1 overall, 6-2-1 Big Ten) took a 1-0 lead on the strength of a Mykines attempt at the 26:06 mark, Illinois' first shot of the game. Mykines controlled possession outside the Northwestern box and fired a looping strike into the top-left of the goal netting, over the outstretched arms of Wildcats keeper Sam Hatfield.
"We did a good job of controlling the game and limiting their chances," Mykines said. "We didn't have a lot of opportunities either, but we put our chances away when we needed to, and it made it easier overall."
DiBernardo doubled the Illinois lead in the 66th minute on a shot from inside the six-yard box. Junior midfielder/forward Niki Read found senior midfielder Julie Ewing racing down the sideline uncontested, with Ewing taking the play to goal before passing across the front of the net to DiBernardo. The Naperville, Ill., native redirected the play with one touch, sending the ball into the right side of the net for her 14th goal of the season.
"We chipped away, over and over," Alcia said. "Northwestern made it difficult for us. We tried a couple of different things, got to the endline, and for us it came from different angles and people. Tonight was a complete effort, which was great and what we want to see."
After recording a total of three tallies over the previous three games, all 1-0 victories, the Illini offense produced as it had earlier in the season, adding a third goal to turn the contest into a rout at the 72:40 mark. Read owned possession near the Northwestern endline and fired a cross to the right post, where Mutz drove a shot into the lower-right corner for the Lockport Township High School graduate's third goal of the season.
With the victory, Illinois extended its win streak to six, the longest such mark for an Illini squad since the Orange and Blue opened the 2004 season with seven straight victories. Illinois controlled possession throughout much of the contest, earning 10 shots to Northwestern's six, while also totaling a 6-2 corner kick advantage. Illinois junior goalkeeper Steph Panozzo saved three on-target shots in net to extend the Illini's scoreless streak to 505 consecutive minutes. Hatfield countered with six stops for the Wildcats.
Illinois heads to Nebraska (7-8-1, 4-5-0) for its final regular season road contest of the year, facing the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Neb., on Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Digital Network through BTN.com as purchasable content. Following the Illini's one remaining away game, the Orange and Blue host Michigan (9-5-2, 4-3-1) at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium during "Senior Night" on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. Admission and parking at all home soccer contests is free throughout the 2011 season.