Women's Soccer
NCAA Tournament 2nd Round: Illini at UNC

Coach Rayfield and the Illini face 2-seed and 13th nationally ranked North Carolina Friday at 5:30 pm CT
Coach Rayfield and the Illini face 2-seed and 13th nationally ranked North Carolina Friday at 5:30 pm CT

Nov. 15, 2012

Complete Game Notes | Interactive Bracket | GameTracker | WATCH LIVE

Week 14 Soccer Notes

                        NCAA Tournament 2nd Round     

Game 23: Illinois (10-8-4) at No. 13 North Carolina (11-5-2)

Friday Nov. 16 // 5:30 p.m. CT // Fetzer Field // Chapel Hill, N.C.


Live Statistics: Available  on Fightingillini.com


Illini trail the overall series, 0-1-0 

(Last Meeting: Illini 0 - UNC 3 - Chapel Hill, N.C., 11/22/08)

Just for kicks

... 11th appearance in NCAA Tournament, going 10-10-2.

... Three Sweet 16 appearances, with best showing of elite eight in 2004.

... 2-0 in PK shootouts this postseason, advancing past Minnesota 3-2 and Missouri 3-0.

... Head Coach Janet Rayfield returns to her alma mater where she earned a National Title in 1982.

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

 ... 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.

... 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 29 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 104 saves, surpassing last season's mark of 75. Second all time for most saves in a season, behind Leisha Alcia (111).

... 7-2-1 when scoring first this year

... 8-2-3 when holding opponent to one goal or less

2012 NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

Host: University of North Carolina 

Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

Facility: Fetzer Field at McCaskill Soccer Center

Live Stats: Available on fightillini.com

Second Round Opponent: North Carolina

2012 Overall Record: 11-5-2

2012 ACC Record: 6-3-1

All-time vs. Illinois: 1-0-0

NSCAA National Ranking: No. 13

Last NCAA Tournament: 2011; Sweet 16
Last Meeting: Illinois 0 - UNC 3 - 11/22/08

Illinois In The NCAA Tournament

Illinois has appeared in 11 NCAA Tournaments during the program's 16 seasons, including the current bid. Overall, the Illini are 10-10-2 in tournament action, reaching as far as the Elite Eight during the 2004 season. Additionally, the Orange and Blue headed to the Sweet Sixteen in 2006 and 2008. 

During their first appearance in the tournament, the Illini defeated Xavier, 2-0, in Champaign during the 2000 season before falling to Big Ten Champion Penn State, 1-0, in overtime in the second round. Illinois went on to see first round competition in both the 2001 and 2003 seasons before its longest run through the NCAA Tournament.

In 2004, the Illini downed Rice, 2-0, and #7 Texas A&M, 2-1, during the first and second rounds in College Station, Texas, to earn the right to host the Sweet Sixteen - where the Orange and Blue dropped Nebraska, 2-1. Illinois took to the road again for the Elite Eight, heading to California to face Santa Clara, where the Illini fell, 2-0, to end their magical run. 

During 2006 and 2008, the Orange and Blue advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, destroying Southeast Missouri State, 2-0, and Saint Louis, 4-1, to reach the third round in 2006. Two years later, Illinois needed two overtimes to beat Memphis, 1-0, during first round competition, before using penalty kicks to down #13 Missouri in Columbia, Mo., during the second round. 

After an opening-round exit at the hands of #22 USC in 2010, Illinois sent Notre Dame packing with a 1-0 shutout victory in the first contest of the 2011 version, the first time a defending National Champion squad was bounced from the tournament in the opening round. Illinois would then lose to No. 4 Oklahoma St in the second round 1-0.


Illinois competed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last Saturday against the Missouri Tigers. After competing 1-1 through two overtimes and 110 minutes of play, the Illini moved on after winning 3-0 in a penalty kick shootout. 

In the 19th-minute, Shayla Mutz dished a pass to the right side of the box, where the ball found a streaking Allie Osoba running past the Tigers' defense. Osoba then delivered a a low lining shot that found the left corner of the net. The strike was Osoba's third goal on the year and has now scored in back-to-back games.

After the Tigers tied the game in the 53rd-minute, Illinois and Mizzou intensely battled, with each squad recording near chances to end the game. In the second half, the Tigers hit the post twice, while in the second overtime, Illinois missed the golden goal on a breakaway. 

Steph Panozzo then took over the game in the PK shootout, blocking the first two shots from Mizzou with diving saves. Taylore Peterson and Kassidy Brown stepped up for the Orange and Blue and quieted the home crowd with successful shots from both kickers. Missouri's third kicker then opened the door for Illinois after blasting her shot off the crossbar. Aliina Weykamp then sent the Illini into the second round of the tournament with a successful PK.

Weekly Preview

The Illini continue down their NCAA path as they head to Chapel Hill to take on the Tarheels of North Carolina in the second round. Coach Janet Rayfield returns to her alma mater, where she achieved many accolades and awards including a national championship. Illinois enters the contest after advancing past Missouri 3-0 in a penalty kick shootout after tying 1-1 through two overtimes. 

Meanwhile, North Carolina is fresh off a 2-0 first round victory over Radford and are ranked No. 13 in the nation by the NSCAA.  The Tarheels have enjoyed an 11-5-2 overall record while going 6-3-1 in conference play and losing in the first round of the ACC Tournament to Virginia, 1-0. North Carolina is 3-2 in their previous five contests while the Illini are 2-1-2. Furthermore, UNC is 4-3-1 at home while Illinois is 3-4-3 on the road. The Tarheels made the NCAA Tournament for the 31st consecutive season, the only team in the nation to make the tournament field all 31 years of it's existence.   

Senior Amber Brooks leads the team with seven goals and 20 points.  Freshman Summer Green and Maria Lubrano are also enjoying their debut seasons with seven goals each, including Green being named the national player of the week earlier in the year. This year the duo has combined for seven game-winning goals. Furthermore, Coach Rayfield and Vanessa DiBernardo know Kealia Ohia, Crystal Dunn and Bryane Heaberlin well, as they all were on the U20 U.S. Women's National Team together.   

In goal for the Tarheels is Adelaide Gay. The red-shirt senior started 17 games in goal and compiled a goals against average of 0.55. She has only needed to record 26 saves, good for a save percentage of .788. 

North Carolina has outscored their opponents 38-12. The Tarheels average 16.8 shots per game while holding opponents to an average of 7.3.  Finally corner kicks have also been in North Carolina's favor, owning a 126-39 advantage. 

The two stellar programs have only met once. In 2008,  UNC downed the Illini 3-0 in the Sweet Sixteen.     


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, which also landed her on the CS360 Primetime Performers list for week 11. Furthermore, Shayla Mutz was 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. Furthermore, DiBernardo and Shayla Mutz were named to the Big Ten All Tournament Team. 

For her dominant PK shootout performance, in which she saved the first two kicks from Mizzou, Steph Panozzo was selected as the Chicagoland Soccer News player of the week along with making the CollegeSoccer360 primetime performer list. 


After netting eight goals in conference play, Vanessa DiBernardo tied Tara Hurless (2001-04) for most career goals scored in Big Ten competition 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. 

Goalkeeper Steph Panozzo is close to securing the top spot for saves in a season. The senior is in sole possession of second place with 104 saves, seven saves shy of top spot holder and current assistant coach Leisha Alcia


The Illini enter the NCAA Tournament going unbeaten in five of their past six games. Illinois defeated Nebraska on Senior Day, No. 24 Michigan in Ann Arbor, rallied to force overtime a man down and trailing by two goals vs. Minnesota where they beat them 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout, upset No. 3 Penn St., fell to No. 21 Ohio State 2-1 in the Big Ten Tournament Title game and advanced past Mizzou 3-0 in a PK shootout after tying 1-1 in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament. Illinois produced 12 out of their 29 goals in the six game span. History was made along the way as well. The victory over Michigan was the program's first ever win in Ann Arbor. In addition, the victory over PSU was the program's first win over a top-3 ranked school. 

Individually, Vanessa DiBernardo, Niki Read and Allie Osoba are in prime form. DiBernardo has claimed at least one point in five of the past seven contests. Meanwhile Niki Read, who did not score her first goal of the season until Senior Day on Oct. 21, scored in the following two games as well, including the huge equalizer against Minnesota in the BTT Quarterfinals, which was assisted by DiBernardo. Osoba possesses the current hot foot, scoring in back to back postseason games. 


The Orange and Blue finished first in the Big Ten in total number of shots in conference play with 223. Overall, the Illini have accomplished an impressive 360 shots, ranking second in the Big Ten. 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 ranked 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 8-2-3 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 7-2-1.


The Orange and Blue have scored 29 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 in October; first for her game-winning hat-trick performance over Michigan State on Oct. 4, and then for 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. Allie Osoba will look to keep her goal scoring streak alive for she has scored in back to back contests. Osoba has three total strikes on the year. Finally, rounding out the list with one goal each are Kassidy Brown, Amy Feher and Aliina Weykamp.