October 4, 2012
HAT TRICK HERO
DiBernardo leads Illini over Spartans
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Junior Vanessa DiBernardo scored all three goals as Illinois defeated Michigan State 3-2 on Thursday night.
Michigan State got on the board in the sixth-minute off a free kick taken by Olivia Stander. The senior's shot from about 20 yards out at the top left corner of the Illini box found the inside of the far post. The strike marked the first goal from Michigan State against Illinois since 2002, spanning 1,161 minutes and 29 seconds.
The Orange and Blue drew even in the 28th-minute when a Spartans hand ball was called inside their own box, and DiBernardo blasted the penalty kick past Spartans goalkeeper Courtney Clem.
Michigan State gained the lead again on a Megan Marsack goal in the 54th-minute. Marsack, from 16 yards out in the center of the box, struck a shot that bounced off the inside portion of the left post and went in.
Illinois rallied to draw even in the 68th-minute. After a give-and-go with Pawloski freed up space for DiBernardo, the junior released a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced down and in behind the Spartan goalkeeper.
Michigan State and Illinois battled in two overtime games last season, but DiBernardo and company prevented that from happening again in the 84th-minute. From 23 yards out, DiBernardo ripped a free kick that curved to the inside right portion of the goal. The tally was DiBernardo's fourth goal of the season.
"We were with the wind at the end of the game and right before I shot Niki Read told me to just hit it hard," said DiBernardo. "I followed her advice and I'm glad I did."
Illinois senior Goalkeeper Steph Panozzo finished with six total saves on the night. Clem had five saves for the Spartans.
"The last three games have been as much about grit as they have about soccer," said Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield. "Tonight I think we showed grit and kept fighting back. It's great to see a performance like Vanessa's but it was definitely a team effort."
With the victory, Illinois moves to 7-4-2 overall and 4-1-1 in the Big Ten, while the Spartans drop to 8-4-2 ( 2-3-1 Big Ten) .
DiBernardo moved up in the Illinois record books after her hat trick performance. The Naperville native is now third on the Illinois career scoring list with 31 goals. DiBernardo is also now tied for fourth with Jessica Bayne in Illinois career points with 66.
Illinois visits Minnesota on October 12 at 7 p.m. CT