DiBernardo Earns Four Weekly Awards
Oct. 3, 2011
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - University of Illinois soccer midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo was named the Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Week, the conference announced on Monday. DiBernardo also earned Top Drawer Soccer and Soccer America Team of the Week and Chicagoland Soccer News Player of the Week accolades. DiBernardo received her second player of the week award from the conference on the season following a three-goal weekend against Indiana and Purdue, while Michigan's Nkem Ezurike shares the award with DiBernardo. Ezurike and Penn State's Maya Hayes rounded out the three conference honorees tabbed on Top Drawer Soccer's weekly release among 11 total recipients, while Ezurike also appears on Soccer America's team.
Against Indiana, the Waubonsie Valley High School graduate staked Illinois to a one-goal advantage in the 40th minute, converting a shot inside the 18-yard box following a pass from junior midfielder/forward Niki Read. After Indiana responded with a goal of their own in the 48th minute of the contest, DiBernardo immediately gave Illinois the lead again with her second tally less than five minutes later. In the 53rd minute, the Naperville, Ill., native used an acrobatic header to connect for the 2-1 advantage. As junior forward Marissa Holden crossed the ball into the Indiana goalie box from the left corner flag, DiBernardo raced onto the play and re-directed the ball into the top-right corner of the net with a leaping header.
With the Illini pitched in a much more physical, tightly contested game on Sunday against Purdue, DiBernardo converted the first penalty kick of her collegiate career in the 57th minute for her sixth game-winning goal of the season, tying DiBernardo with Penn State's Maya Hayes and Michigan State's Laura Heyboer for the most in the Big Ten on the year.
Monday's award marks the fourth Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week award of DiBernardo's career. Previously, the sophomore midfielder earned offensive player of the week laurels from the conference twice during the 2010 season and again on Aug. 22, 2011 following a four-goal weekend against Gonzaga and Toledo.
The Orange and Blue continue the season with a lone weekend match at Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 8 at noon CT. The game will appear as a delayed broadcast on the Big Ten Network, airing at 5 p.m. CT on Sunday, Oct. 9. The Illini will then return to Champaign, Ill., to host Minnesota on Friday, Oct. 14 before facing Wisconsin as part of SoccerFest 2011 on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. CT.