September 16, 2012
DiBernardo helps Illini to 2-1 win
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Megan Pawloski set up first half goals by Vanessa DiBernardo and Nicole Brecce to lift Illinois to a 2-1 win over Iowa in the Big Ten season opener at Illinois Soccer Stadium Sunday.
DiBernardo, fresh off capturing the U20 World Cup with the USA, wasted no time tallying a goal on her first shot within the first four minutes of the game. After a quick sequence of one touch passes between DiBernardo, Nicole Denenberg and Megan Pawloski, DiBernardo was able to release a shot that found the lower left corner of the net.
"It was a great sequence and one you might not expect with so little training time together," said Illini coach Janet Rayfield. It was great to get Vanessa back into the mix and with some more training I think we will get in sync even more consistently."
Iowa, who came to Champaign with an undefeated record of 9-0-0, fought back in the 23rd-minute with a goal off of a set piece. Sophomore Melanie Pickert took the kick from just inside Illinois' half and picked up the assist on the play. The chipped ball soared to the penalty marker area inside the box where junior Alex Melin sent it into the goal with a well placed header. The tally was Melin's first goal of the season.
Illinois had a chance to reclaim the lead in the 29th-minute when Breece split a pair of Hawkeye defenders and then was tripped from behind in the box and awarded a penalty kick taken by DiBernardo. However, freshman goalie Meg Goodson guessed the right direction and made an athletic diving save.
Despite the negated penalty, Illinois got their go-ahead goal just one minute later. Pawloski used her flip throw-in to send a ball deep into Iowa's penalty box. Breece, who was waiting around the six-yard box then redirected the ball with her head to the back of the net for the 2-1 lead. Breece now leads the Illini with two goals and five points on the year and Pawloski leads the squad with three total assists.
"Nicole is going to be fun to watch over the next four years," said Rayfield. "She's got a 1-V-1 ability that I think will continue to get better, but she also gets her head up and has the ability to find other people in the attack."
The Illinois offense continued to roll in the second half, applying pressure to the Hawkeyes defense by taking shot-after-shot and controlling the majority of the possession. Illinois recorded a season best 28 shots t.
Iowa freshman goalie Hannah Clark who subbed in to start the second half was active in the period, made six saves. Illini keeper Steph Panozzo recorded five saves. Illinois outshot the Hawkeyes 28-13 and had more shots on goal with 10 compared to Iowa's six.
Next weekend, the Illini play back to back Big Ten games at home, hosting Ohio State on Friday at 6pm CT and then Penn State on Sunday at noon.