Forward Jordan Hilbrands tallied the game-winning goal in Illinois' 1-0 win over Ball State in the spring finale.
April 19, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois soccer team concluded its spring season with a 1-0 victory over the Ball State Cardinals on Saturday afternoon at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. Freshman forward Jordan Hilbrands continued her hot streak as she notched her fifth goal of the spring season in the 84th minute on an assist from sophomore forward Chichi Nweke.
"Chichi found some success getting in line and it was just a matter of finding that person in the box and us making a good decision in the box," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "It wasn't a great game for us because we lacked the kind of energy it will take to be successful in the fall, but we kept fighting. The challenge now is to take the summer to come back fresh and ready to compete, which I think they will."
The Illini defense held the Cardinals in check throughout the game, allowing just seven shots and one shot on goal in the match. Freshman defender Danielle Kot played a key role in keeping the defense organized and guiding the Orange and Blue to their third shutout of the spring. In addition to Kot, Rayfield was impressed with the performances of her young players.
"The young players are starting to play with the kind of consistency and mentality you want them to play with," Rayfield said. "Kot has taken an organizational role in the back and I think you could see that today. She's going to be even more comfortable doing that in the fall. Cory (Steigerwald) settled the game for us. When she was on the field today we had a few more possessions and were able to create a few more chances. Obviously, Jordan and Chichi have stepped up throughout the spring."
After a scoreless first half, the Illini went on the attack during the second half. The Orange and Blue narrowly missed a scoring opportunity in the 53rd minute when Hilbrands drove the ball to the endline before crossing to junior midfielder Marti Desjarlais inside the 18. The ball deflected off Desjarlais to freshman forward Laura Knutson, but Ball State goalkeeper Rachael Murphy pounced on the ball to stifle the threat.
With just under 25 minutes to play, the Redbirds escaped another Illini attack when Nweke took the ball from the midfield down the left flank and crossed to the far post, but the ball sailed just out of Hilbrands' reach.
Nweke would not miss Hilbrands the second time around, as she again took control of a ball and crossed from the near post to a sliding Hilbrands inside the six. Hilbrands punched the goal into the corner of the net past Murphy's outstretched hand for the game-winning goal.
Overall, Illinois out-cornered Ball State 7-2, including a 6-1 first-half advantage. The Orange and Blue totaled six shots on goal and out-shot the Cardinals, 11-7. The Illini finish the spring 6-1-1, including wins over the Mexican National Team and Missouri.