April 24, 2000
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -
The Illinois women's soccer team completed a successful spring with two shut outs against top teams at the Kicks Against Breast Cancer Tournament at College Park, Md., April 14-16.
The Illini played to 0-0 ties against #4 Penn State, who advanced to last year's Final Four and #6 Clemson. Illinois also tied George Mason (1-1), and dropped a match to #23 Maryland (0-1).
Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro was especially pleased with the leadership of sophomore midfielder Lindsay Johnson and sophomore defender Kristin Holman. "Lindsay was key for us getting balls into the box," said Taliaferro. "She has stepped up her play tremendously and was voted captain this spring. Kristin Holman, likewise, has really elevated her game as has our entire back three (Hodson and sophomore Heidi Holtzman)."
Illinois raised the most money of any school in the tournament -- $4800. The tournament raised over $16,000 toward breast cancer research in all. The Illini have been asked to host a satellite tournament in the Midwest in 2001.
Despite scoring just one goal the Illini had several scoring chances. Sue Hodson connected on a broken play off a corner kick and put the ball in the net against George Mason. Hodson, along with the rest of the young players, namely freshman midfielder Meghan Kolze, freshman forward Laura Freeman, freshman midfielder Heather Nadeau, and freshman forward Tara Schuling, continue to improve. The players up front put heavy pressure on Penn State, keeping the ball in the attacking half most of the second half. The Illini created numerous opportunities despite playing most of the weekend without the services of three of their top front-line players, Lisa Baldwin, Emily Brown, and Hollie Schurr, all of whom are recovering from injuries.
Not only was Taliaferro taking her team to a top-notch tournament, she was returning to her alma mater, the University of Maryland, for the first time since her college days. "It was neat to get back," she said.
Taliaferro's goal was clear: prepare a young team for the rigors of the national scene. Ten starters return from this year's 12-8 team. Having defeated two ranked teams and reached as high as No. 15 in the country during the regular season, the Illinois nearly earned the school's first NCAA Tournament bid. With a nucleus of talented players returning along with an exceptional recruiting class, the coach believes her team can take the next step in the fall.
"I was really pleased with the whole team development this spring," Taliaferro added. "Our performance throughout the spring and this weekend provide me with great optimism heading into the fall."