Laura Freeman scored two goals for Illinois in NCAA win
Nov. 8, 2000
Champaign, Ill. - Illinois made the most of its first trip to the NCAA Tournament. Three days after receiving its first ever tournament berth, the Illini shut out Xavier, 2-0 in the tourney's first round in Champaign.
The win sets up a showdown between Illinois (14-7) and Big Ten champion Penn State at Noon CST in State College, Pa. Penn State defeated the Illini 2-1 in 3OT last Friday. Xavier, who entered play holding a 14-match unbeaten streak, ends its season at 14-7-1.
Illinois sophomore Laura Freeman, making her first start of the season, scored the Illini's two goals in the victory. The first goal came off a corner from Hollie Schurr. After the ball rattled between Illinois and Xavier players, Freeman knocked the ball off a Musketeer defender and into the net at 16:55.
"It was a just a great cross," said Freeman. "I happened to be standing there. It bounced around and before you know it was in the net."
"I'm very pleased with the way we came out this being our first time in the NCAA Tournament," said Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro. "We had some great goals, some great plays from our defense and hopefully we'll be able to build on this heading into Penn State."
For the most part the game was a defensive struggle. The teams combined for just 26 total shots, 13 of them on goal. Illinois played a relatively error free game with just five fouls for the 90 minutes. The game had just five corner kick chances as well.
Margaret Broe provided Xavier's best chance in the first half, but a shot just went wide of the net. Down just 1-0, the Musketeers were right in the game as the first half began.
The Illini took control, however, right at the outset of the first half with another Freeman goal. Junior defender Heidi Holtzman, who managed to dribble into the Xavier defense several times on the evening, did so again as the half started. Her penetration left Freeman unmarked. Holtzman found her teammate, who deposited her seventh goal of the year just 49 seconds into the second half.
"The space just opened up," said Holtzman. "Our wing middies were going touch line, so that opened space in the middle. I was just there to capitalize on the opportunity."
"We saw some things on tape that we were able to make some adjustments off the ball. The movement off the ball was the key to open up things," said Taliaferro.
Thanks to some impressive throw-ins by Xavier's Nicole Giesting, Xavier had some chances in front of the Illinois net. Twice Sarah Anderson dug the precarious throws out of the air. Margaret Broe and Annette Gruber led Xavier in shots with three apiece.
"It's the nature of the game. Some times it drops in for you and sometimes it doesn't," said Xavier coach Ron Quinn."
Illinois' Colleen Joyce got most of her chances from straight away in front of the net. Three of her four attempts were on goal and 7 of the Illini's 15 shots overall were on goal.