Women's Soccer
Illinois vs Ohio State for BTT Championship

The Illini are 15-9-4 in BTT history with 2 Championship titles
The Illini are 15-9-4 in BTT history with 2 Championship titles

Nov. 3, 2012

BTT Championship Notes

Week 12 Soccer Notes

Big Ten Tournament Championship

Game 21: Illinois (10-7-3, 6-4-1) vs. No. 21 Ohio State (15-4-1, 8-2-1)

Sunday Nov. 4 // 11:00 a.m. CT // Armstrong Stadium // Bloomington, Ind.

Game Coverage

GameTracker | Big Ten Tournament Central | TV: Big Ten Network | Radio: WDWS 1400 AM

The Series

The series is tied at 8-8-1. (Last meeting: Illinois 1, Ohio St 0; Sept. 21, 2012)

Big Ten Tournament Road

#5 Illinois - 2, #4 Minnesota - 2, ILL advances on PK's 3-2 ; Printable Box ; Illinois release

#5 Illinois - 1, #1 Penn State - 0 ; Printable Box ; Illinois Release

#5 Illinois vs #2 Ohio State - Sunday, Nov. 4, 11 a.m. CT

Just for kicks

... Are 15-9-4 all time in Big Ten Tournament play.

... BTT Semis: First Time Penn State had been shutout all season.

... BTT Semis: First time in program history Illinois defeated a top-3 ranked school.

... BTT Quarterfinals: First time in program history the squad rallied to score two goals down a man to eventually advance.

... 3-1 all time in BTT play in PK shootouts 

... Have won BTT titles in 2003, 2011.

.... Sunday vs Ohio St. marks the fifth BTT championship game appearance for the Illini.

... Illinois is enjoying their best stretch of the season, going unbeaten in four staight games, scoring 10 goals in that span.

 ... With their 3-2 OT win over Michigan, the Illini have won their past 77 games when netting three or more goals, dating back to the 1999 season.

... Are 5-0-1 when the team produces at least 2 goals.

... Earned their first program win in Ann Arbor with 3-2 OT win

... DiBernardo led the conference in shots (69) in Big Ten play while freshman Nicole Breece just cracked the top-10 in shots per game with 3.44.

... 11 of the 27 goals that have been scored this year have been by different Illini.

... Are 8-1-2 when they have outshot their opponent. 

... Goalkeeper Steph Panozzo achieved a new career high of 92 saves, surpassing last season’s mark of 75. Save Total Ranks 1st in B1G.

... DiBernardo has won Co-Offensive player of the week twice in October and was just named First Team All Big Ten

... 7-2-0 when scoring first this year

... 8-2-2 when holding opponent to one goal or less

2012 Big Ten Tournament

Host: Indiana University

Location: Bloomington, Ind.

Facility: Armstrong Stadium (Capacity: 6,500)

TV:   Championship to air on BTN
Live Stats: Available on fightillini.com

llinois In The Big Ten Tournament

Since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1997 in the program’s first season, Illinois has reached the Big Ten Tournament each fall it was hosted outside of the Illini’s inaugural year - a total of 12 appearances. The Orange and Blue were Big Ten Tournament Champions during the 2003 and 2011 seasons and finished runners-up in 2001 and 2006, while the tournament was not held during 2009 or 2010, making the current installment the first since 2008.

In Illinois’ first four appearances, the Orange and Blue exited the tournament following losses to the eventual champions, including a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat to Penn State in overtime during the 2001 tournament, held at Indiana University. After falling in the second round to Wisconsin during their 2002 showing, the Illini earned their first Big Ten Tournament Title to in 2003 at Wisconsin. 

To earn the championship as the #2 seed, the Illini shut out three consecutive opponents by two-goal margins, downing #7 Michigan State in the quarterfinals followed by victories over #3 Purdue in the semifinals and #4 Michigan during the 2003 Big Ten Tournament Championship. 

Since earning the title, the Orange and Blue have reached at least the semifinal in every season outside of 2008, including a berth in the 2006 championship game after wins over #7-seed Wisconsin, 3-0, and #3-seed Purdue, 1-0. 

Illinois once again claimed the tournament trophy in 2011 with three consecutive overtime victories. The #2 Illini squad downed #7 Ohio State in PK’s 4-2 before taking a 1-0 OT win against #3 Michigan State. Illinois then bested #1 Penn State 2-1 in OT. 

All-time, Illinois is 15-9-4 (.607 winning percentage) in Big Ten Tournament play, the second-best mark amongst all conference programs. 


The Fighting Illini’s road to a second consecutive Big Ten Tournament Championship and third overall continued this morning as Illinois created yet another historic moment in program history. The Orange and Blue upset #1 seed and #3 Nationally ranked Penn State 1-0 in today’s semi-final matchup. It was the program’s first ever win against a top-3 school. Freshman Nicole Breece recorded the game-winning goal with junior Megan Pawloski credited with the assist.

In the 40th-minute, the Illini got their difference maker and the eventual game-winner. Megan Pawloski performed her signature flip-throw in on the right side of the field in which the ball was launched deep inside the Penn State box. After the ball bounced two times and went to the far post, Nicole Breece ran on and placed the ball into the back of the net.

The Orange and Blue’s toughness and urge to get back to the title game was on full display in the second half as all 10 field players were challenging every 50/50 ball. The Illini midfield and defense continued to hold their shape and if need be, throw their bodies in front of a Penn State shot to keep them off the board.

In the 76th-minute, Steph Panozzo made the save of the game. Penn State’s Tani Costa settled the ball deep in the Illinois box on the left side. She took a touch to her right and blasted the shot to the far post. Panozzo instantly dove to her left in full extension and snatched the ball for the save.

The clock finally reached zero as the Illini earned a chance to defend their Big Ten Tournament Championship in the title game Sunday. The victory also marks the fifth time in school history the Orange and Blue have reached the final game in the conference tournament. 

Panozzo and company handed Penn State their first shutout on the year as the Nittany Lions entered the tournament leading the nation in goals per game (3.16). Illinois moves to 10-7-3 overall and 15-9-4 all time in Big Ten Tournament play.

Weekly Preview

The Illini are now one step away from retaining their Big Ten Championship and it’s the No. 21 Ohio State Buckeyes that stand in their way. The two squads enter Sunday’s game in full seasoned and battle-tested form. Illinois is enjoying their best stretch of the season right now, going unbeaten in the past four games and scoring 10 goals in that span. Meanwhile, Ohio St. has won their previous eight games, one victory shy of tying their school record. Both Illinois and Ohio St. will by vying for their third tournament title in their fifth championship game appearance. Illinois earned the right to the title game after rallying down a man and two goals against Minnesota to force overtime and win 3-2 in PK’s, followed by a 1-0 victory over No.3 Penn St. The Buckeyes squeezed past Nebraska 1-0 in the quarters and edged Michigan in the semis 2-1. 

Tiffany Cameron spearheads the Ohio St. attack with 41 points this season. The senior has totaled 18 goals, five assists and eight game-winners. Cameron also has a team high 84 shots with a shots on goal percentage of .536. In addition, Lauren Granberg is making an impact for the Buckeyes this year. The senior defender has 24 points and a team leading eight assists. 

Junior Rachel Middleman and freshman Jillian McVicker have been evenly splitting time in the goalkeeper position. Middleman has played 17 games (918 min), starting 15, and allowed seven goals for a goals against average of 0.69. Furthermore, Middleman compiled a .811 save percentage and 2.8 shutouts. McVicker has played 17 games as well (913 min), starting four, and allowed five goals for a GAA of 0.49. McVicker’s save percentage is .886 and the Buckeyes are 7-1-1 when she is in goal. 

Ohio St. averages 1.85 goals and 14.9 shots per game while limiting opponents to an impressive 0.60 and 12.5 respectively. Their 12 goals allowed overall is first amongst Big Ten schools. The Buckeyes are susceptible to corner kicks, giving up 123 while earning only 100. Furthermore, Ohio St. is the most penalized team in the Big Ten, booked for 220 fouls. Finally, the Buckeyes have seen more success in the first half, scoring nearly 2/3 of their goals in that period.

Ohio St. and Illinois last met on Sept. 21 of this year in Champaign, where the Illini enjoyed a 1-0 win in cold rainy conditions. The Orange and Blue got their game-winner in the 68th-minute. The play started with a free kick taken by Kassidy Brown, who found Nicole Breece at the top of the six yard box. Breece then dished to Taylore Peterson who one-timed the shot into the lower left corner of the goal. Illinois outshot the Buckeyes 19-13 and had more shots on goal, 5-4. Illini goalkeeper Steph Panozzo recorded four saves and the shutout.


The Illini enter the Big Ten Tournament on a four-game unbeaten streak, their longest of the 2012 season. Illinois defeated Nebraska on Senior Day, No. 24 Michigan in Ann Arbor, rallied to force overtime vs. Minnesota where they beat them 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout and then upset No. 3 Penn St. 1-0. Illinois has produced 10 goals in that span, out of their 27 on the year.  Individually, junior Vanessa DiBernardo and senior Niki Read are red hot. DiBernardo has claimed at least one point in four of the past five contests. Meanwhile Niki Read, who did not score her first goal of the season until Senior Day on Oct. 21, has produced scored a goal in the previous three of four games, including the huge equalizer against Minnesota in the Quarterfinals, which was assisted by DiBernardo. 


For the second consecutive season, junior Vanessa DiBernardo received a spot on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. She is one of 38 women’s soccer athletes up for the Hermann Trophy, given to one collegiate soccer player of each gender in recognition of their excellence in the sport as the best athlete of that year. 

Junior defender Christina Farrell and Steph Panozzo were named to the Wake Forest Invitational All-Tournament Team. The duo limited the No. 17 and No. 11 teams in the nation to a combined two goals. 

Top Drawer Soccer (TDS) updated their top-100 upperclassmen list at the beginning of October and DiBernardo still ranks No. 10 in the nation. Also, TDS updated their top-20 players in the Big Ten with Vanessa making the cut on that list as well. In addition, TDS just released their midseason women’s freshmen top 100. Nicole Breece checked in at the No. 28 spot while Taylore Peterson secured No. 47. 

Vanessa DiBernardo was named Big Ten offensive player of the week for her game-winning hat trick performance over Michigan State on Oct. 4.  DiBernardo claimed the Big Ten co-offensive POTW honor again for her five point winning effort in the 3-2 OT win at No. 24 Michigan. Furthermore, Shayla Mutz was recently recognized as Chicagoland Soccer News player of the week for her two-goal performance in the 4-1 win over Nebraska. The honor was Mutz’s first accolade of the year.

On Halloween, the Big Ten announced their post-season awards. DiBernardo claimed her third career First Team All-Big Ten award. In addition, Nicole Breece was acknowledged for her productive season, being named to the All-Big Ten Freshmen Team. Meanwhile, junior Allie Osoba was named Sportsmanship Award Honoree. 


DiBernardo has eight goals, including two game-winners, through 12 games. Therefore, Vanessa has tied Tara Hurless (2001-04) for most career goals scored in Big Ten play only with 20. She also surpassed Hurless (48 pts, 141 shots) for the top spot in career points and career shots in conference play, now with 50 and 151 respectively. 

Overall, DiBernardo is now third in career goals with 32, behind Emily Brown’s 46 and Tara Hurless’ 47. Vanessa is third in career points as well with 84. Once again behind Emily Brown (108) and Tara Hurless (115). Finally, the junior is second in career game-winning goals with 14, two behind leader Hurless. 


The Orange and Blue finished first in the Big Ten in total number of shots in conference play. The Illini have accomplished an impressive 223 shots over 11 contests. The Illini have been a tough team to beat when they have outshot their opponent, currently 8-1-2 on the year. 

Individually, Vanessa DiBernardo broke the school record when she attempted 11 shots in the 1-0 win over Iowa in Champaign. The junior ranks first amongst all players in Big Ten play in total shots (69) and shots per game (6.27). Freshman Nicole Breece joined in on the action when she finished ranked No. 10 in conference competition in shots per game with 3.44.


Three has proven to be the magic winning number for the Illini over the course of the program’s history. The Orange and Blue have won their past 77 games when netting three or more goals, dating back to the 1999 season. Illinois has added four this season with a 3-1 win over Milwaukee, 3-2 win over Michigan State, a 4-1 win vs Nebraska and a 3-2 OT win over No. 24 Michigan. The number three also stands for the number of come from behind victories the Illinois squad has rallied to claim. The number two has also been kind as well. The squad is undefeated at 5-0-1 when they score at least two goals. Finally, the number one. Illinois is 8-2-2 in games in which the defense and goalkeeper Steph Panozzo has limited the opposition to one goal or less. In addition, when the Illini are the first to score in a game, the Orange and Blue are 7-2-0.


The Orange and Blue have scored 27 total goals thus far this season and they have come from 11 different players. Vanessa DiBernardo leads the pack with eight goals. The junior won Big Ten offensive player of the week twice now. First for her game-winning hat-trick performance over Michigan State on Oct. 4, and then her two goal effort in the 3-2 OT win over Michigan that included the game-winning penalty kick.

The Illinois offense has also been injected with youth in freshmen Nicole Breece and Taylore Peterson, as they have made an immediate impact. The duo has combined for five goals, four game-winners, three assists and a clutch BTT PK. On the opposite side of the spectrum are seniors Nicole Denenberg, Marissa Holden, Niki Read and Shayla Mutz. Denenberg and Holden have accumulated two goals each this season. Mutz and Read came alive on Senior Day as Shayla netted her second and third goals of the year while Read produced her first. Read then continued her hot streak by scoring in the next two games against Michigan and Minnesota. Rounding out the list with one goal each are Kassidy Brown, Allie Osoba, Amy Feher and Aliina Weykamp.