October 18, 2012
Northwestern comes back to beat Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. –Northwestern converted two goals in the final nine minutes to seal a a come from behind upset over Illinois at cold and wet Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium Thursday night.
"The weather wasn't great but both teams had to play in it," said Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield. "I think we let it affect us as we dropped off way too far in the first half with the wind and the rain in our face. With the ball skipping around the way it did it definitely affected our confidence. We started out this season settled and knocking the ball around and we've lost that. Certainly the weather played a factor but the thing about a mentally tough team is they don't let things like that affect them. This team has to find that."
Illinois had the 1-0 lead for much of the match, after Megan Pawloski was knocked down from behind in the Northwestern box and Vanessa DiBernardo converted a penalty kick in the 17th minute.
Illinois dominated much of the match, taking 31 shots, and had near misses from Niki Read, Reagan Robishaw and Nicole Breece early in the second half.
In the final 10 minutes, the momentum shifted to the Wildcats favor. In the 81st-minute, Georgia Waddle broke through the Illini defense and placed a shot on goal. The ball deflected off of Panozzo and rolled towards the net. An Illini defender tried to clear, but it was too late as the attempted clearance went into the inside corner of the goal to tie the game at one.
Waddle set up the eventual game-winner with a throw-in deep in Illini territory with about 20 seconds left. NU had two shots that were deflected and then Illinois was whistled for a handball in the box with just four seconds remaining in the game. Allen sent a low shot to the bottom right corner of the net to score her team-leading seventh goal of the season and send NU back to Evanston with the 2-1 victory.
With the loss, Illinois drops to 7-7-2 overall and 4-4-1 in conference competition. Meanwhile, the Wildcats earn their first win in Big Ten play, now at 1-8-0, and jump to 5-10-2 overall. The win ws the first ever for Northwestern in Champaign.
"We are scrapping to get into the Big Ten Tournament now," continued Rayfield. "We're just trying to extend our season at this point. It's tight in the Big Ten race right now and that's what we have to look at. We have to look at one win at a time and hope that two wins will get us into the Big Ten Tournament. We can only control the things that we do and that's stepping out on Sunday and trying to get a win against Nebraska and that's no easy task."
Steph Panozzo concluded the evening with five saves, brining her season total to 71, four shy of last year's mark. Northwestern sophomore goalkeeper Anna Cassell battled through the Illini attack all night and made six saves, five in the second half.
Next up, the Illini have their final home game of the regular season when they host Nebraska on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 12 p.m. CT.