Illini Advance Past #21 Washington State in Penalty Kicks
Nov. 16, 2013
PULLMAN, Wash. - On a muddy Lower Soccer Field, Illinois and No. 21 Washington State ended double overtime in a scoreless 0-0 tie, but the Illini edged the Cougars 3-1 in penalty kicks and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Freshman goalkeeper Claire Wheatley made a career-high 11 saves in regulation and two more during the shootout, and senior Vanessa DiBernardo sent the Illini to the next round with the clinching penalty kick.
"The tradition with Illinois and penalty kicks is something where we have been before," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "That certainly helped us today with our upperclassmen having that experience. You knew going into the game it wasn't going to be the prettiest game of the tournament. You have to give both teams a lot of credit to fight and scrap through the conditions and the mud. There were two pretty good NCAA soccer teams here today with a tough surface to play on."
Illinois reached the NCAA Tournament second round for the third year in a row and second-straight time in penalty kicks, as they did so at Missouri last season. The Illini are 10-11-3 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and have moved on in all three games featuring penalty kicks. It also marked the ninth time in 12 appearances that UI has advanced to the second round, as they are now 7-3-2 all-time in the first round.
After 110 minutes of play in sloppy conditions due to snow and rain from the night before, the first round game went to penalty kicks to decide a winner. Wheatley made a clutch save on the first WSU attempt, while redshirt-sophomore Aliina Weykamp found the back of the net to put the Illini ahead 1-0 after the first round.
Wheatley again made a save on the second WSU attempt and sophomore Taylore Peterson connected on her attempt to give UI a 2-0 edge after two rounds. The Cougars scored during round three, while the Illini were stopped, making it 2-1.
"Claire came up huge today," Rayfield said. "It was tough to hold onto the ball today, so what was even more significant was the second save. For a kid from Texas to come up here, play in this type of weather and do what she did today as a freshman, you have to give her kudos for that."
WSU sailed its fourth attempt wide, setting up DiBernardo for the game-winner in the fourth round. The Naperville, Ill., native came through for the Orange and Blue to keep her senior season alive.
"Today was a huge step for Vanessa," Rayfield said. "To go from not playing a lot to playing 110 minutes in those conditions says a lot about how she wants her season to keep on going. This team is playing for this senior class, so they can keep on going."
During regulation, WSU dominated the first half with a 17-4 edge, but the Illini back line of Weykamp, freshman Casey Conine, senior Christina Farrell and sophomore Amy Feher held strong and consistently cleared balls to keep the Cougars off the board. The second half proved to a more even affair with seven shots by WSU and five by the Illini.
In the first overtime, WSU had four shots, while the Illini did not record one. Both teams had a shot attempt in double overtime, but no one could find the back of the net, sending the contest to penalty kicks.
"I don't think we ever tried to play to get to penalty kicks," Rayfield said. "Both teams knew that one opportunity could make the difference in this game."
DiBernardo played all 110 minutes and led the Illini with five shots. Big Ten Forward of the Year Jannelle Flaws also played the entire game and had a pair of shot attempts, increasing her season total to 105 shots, which is one behind Emily Brown's school-record (106) for shots in a season.
Despite getting outshot 29-10 and trailing 11-4 in corner kicks, the Illini held their own on the road and earned a trip to the next round. Illinois will play the winner of Seattle and Portland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament next Friday, Nov. 22.