Senior Colleen Joyce fired five shots in her final game as an Illini.
"It hurts," head coach Tricia Taliaferro said. "I thought we played well. We created our chances, we just didn't finish. It's a tribute to their goalkeeper. She worked hard and had some great saves. They had good defenders and we couldn't get in behind them."
Both teams fought hard, ending the first half knotted at zero. Illinois fired 13 shots to the Orangewomen's seven. The Illini also had four corner kicks in the first half while only committing six fouls.
After the half, the Illini continued their offensive prowess making Syracuse keeper Shannon Myers work for every save. Illinois fired 14 shots while taking 11 corners, but they could not find the back of the net. In the fiftieth minute, Erica Mastrogiacomo caught the Illinois defense off guard and took the ball up the middle off the dribble for the unassisted goal.
Toward the end of the contest, the Illini could not capitalize on multiple opportunities. At the 17:26 mark, Colleen Joyce fired a wicked shot that smacked into the hands of Myers and went sailing over the crossbar. Two minutes later. Laura Freeman took it to the net in a one on four situation. She fired just left of the goal. The Illini remained aggressive taking four corners in the final five minutes. As the final seconds ticked away, Illinois' 27th shot of the night went sailing over the crossbar.
Illinois concludes the 2001 season with a record of 12-8-1. They finished a program-best third in the Big Ten with a conference mark of 6-3-1, making their first appearance in the championship match of the Big Ten Tournament. The Illini not only made the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, but also they had the privilege of hosting for the second time.
"Consecutive is huge for our program," Taliaferro added. "We also had a lot of firsts this season. We only got better toward the end, and we have a lot to build on for next year."