Sophomore Vanessa DiBernardo helped lead the Illini to consecutive 5-1 victories over Gonzaga and Toledo as Illinois put up 10 goals on 56 shots on the season-opening weekend.
Aug. 22, 2011
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - University of Illinois soccer midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, the conference announced on Monday. DiBernardo earned the award following a four-goal weekend against Gonzaga and Toledo as the Waubonsie Valley High School graduate notched both game-winning tallies.
Against Gonzaga on Friday, Aug. 19, DiBernardo totaled the first and second goals of the contest for the Illini in the 5-1 victory. Fourteen minutes into the season, DiBernardo settled a pass from senior Marissa Mykines and fired a shot into the top-left corner of the net to break the scoreless tie. At the 50-minute mark, DiBernardo doubled the Illinois lead unassisted, drilling a 20-yard shot into the lower-left corner of the goal.
Two days later, Toledo's physical defense was unable to stifle DiBernardo, as the sophomore midfielder provided two more tallies to Illinois' lopsided win, 5-1. The Naperville, Ill., native gave Illinois a one-goal lead only minutes after the Rockets tied the contest, bending a free kick into the netting inches from the right post of the Toledo goal at the 39:42 mark. DiBernardo followed with her final tally of the weekend on a header pass from junior Nicole Denenberg with 11 minutes remaining in the contest, settling the ball before pivoting and dropping a looping shot over the head of Toledo's goalie.
DiBernardo has previous been awarded the Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week on two occasions during her freshman season and earned the Freshman of the Week laurel three times during her 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year campaign. In 2011, DiBernardo has also been recognized by soccer organizations around the country, with her name appearing on the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. Top Drawer Soccer awarded the 2010 Fighting Illini Female Newcomer of the Year a place among the Upperclass Top-100 and named DiBernardo to its season-opening Team of the Week on Monday.
Illinois will continue its season at Ball State with a Friday, Aug. 26, match at 3 p.m. CT before heading to Louisville for a Sunday, Aug. 28, contest scheduled to begin at noon.