Sophomore defender Kassidy Brown tallied assists on Janelle Flaws and Julie Ewing's goals against Michigan.
Oct. 29, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In the final contest of the regular season, the University of Illinois soccer team defeated Michigan, 3-2, during "Senior Night" to secure its eighth straight victory of the year, breaking the previous program record for consecutive wins, set in 2004. Seniors Julie Ewing and Jenna Carosio and redshirt-freshman Jannelle Flaws tallied one goal each to create the margin of victory, improving the Illini record to 14-4-1 overall and 8-2-1 in Big Ten play.
"It was a great night for the seniors," Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said. "It was a little heart-stopping for me every time it got to be a one-goal game. This senior class has always been competitive and they showed that tonight in terms of just continuing to compete. We knew it was going to be a battle. Michigan was fighting for their lives and for their season. There was so much at stake and we knew they weren't going to quit. They made us fight to the end."
Flaws totaled her third mark of the season to give Illinois a one-goal lead with 16:46 remaining in the first half. Sophomore defender Kassidy Brown stole possession away from the Michigan defense near the right corner flag. Brown then dribbled toward net before passing across the goal-mouth to Flaws, who used one touch to re-direct the ball into the lower-left corner of the net.
Ewing added the second goal of the contest for the Illini six minutes and 31 seconds into the second half. Brown started Illinois' second scoring play in similar fashion to the first, taking control of the ball from the Michigan defense near the right corner flag - this time finding Ewing as the Batavia, Ill., native raced into the center of the 18-yard box, with Ewing trapping the ball and firing a shot into the lower-right corner for the two-goal advantage.
Michigan (9-8-2, 4-6-1) tallied its first goal of the game on a shot by Nkem Ezurike following a pass from Christina Murillo in the 74th minute; however, the Wolverines physical style of play cost them dearly, as the Michigan defense was called for a foul in the box, resulting in a penalty kick attempt for Carosio with six minutes left in the game. Carosio took the opportunity to re-establish the two-goal lead for Illinois, placing a forceful shot past Michigan goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer.
"I played club with [Kopmeyer], so I have taken so many penalty kicks against her," Carosio said. "I just made sure I looked straight at the ball and didn't give anything away. She is an awesome goalie."
The Wolverines tallied once more at the 85:48 mark on Kim Siebert's first goal of the season; however, the Orange and Blue maintained possession throughout the final minutes to seal the win, with sophomore Megan Pawloski nearly recording a pair of goals in the process. During the final minute of play, Pawloski earned a pair of chances from inside the 18-yard box as the Illini kept numbers forward to maintain pressure on the Michigan defense. At the 89:25 and 89:40 marks, Pawloski fired on-target attempts, only to have Kopmeyer spoil the shots with diving saves each time.
Kopmeyer made 10 saves in net for Michigan while Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo recorded five stops. The Illini outshot the Wolverines by a slim margin, 16-15, and earned six corner kick opportunities to three for Michigan. The Wolverines were called for 14 fouls during the contest against 12 for Illinois.
"They definitely fought really hard," Ewing said. "They are a really good team. I think we just realized that we had to put some more goals in the back of the net. Every time they answered, we answered back and we were successful."
The Orange and Blue continue the 2011 season as the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, held on Northwestern's Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill. The Illini will face the No. 7 seed in the semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 2, with the opponent to be determined by the outcome of Sunday's Ohio State-Indiana game, as the Buckeyes and Purdue are both still in the running for the No. 7 spot.