The Illini remain in second place in the Big Ten with their fifth consecutive victory.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Illinois soccer team played a 1-0 game. For the fifth consecutive game, the Illini came out on top. In a physical game with Wisconsin, the Illini used a first half goal from sophomore Megan Pawloski, her sixth of the season, to earn the one-goal victory. After the start of the game, where both teams struggled to string together much possession, the Illini gradually took control as the first half wore on. Just after the first half media timeout, the Illini offense found the mark. Sophomore midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo served a ball down the right side. It appeared that it might be just out of the reach of junior forward Shayla Mutz, but she was able to get to it just before it crossed the end line and send it across in front of the net where Pawloski was waiting to put a sliding touch on the ball. She got it past Badger keeper Michelle Dalton for the goal at the 24:07 mark.
Both teams had a few quality chances after the lone goal, but both keepers were up to the challenge. Illini junior Steph Panozzo made five saves in net for her sixth shutout of the season, while her counterpart Dalton made made three saves for Wisconsin. The Illini outshot the Badgers 14-8 on the afternoon, while each team earned only two corner kicks on the afternoon. In a physical game that got a bit chippy later in the second half, Wisconsin was whistled for 20 fouls, with the Illini committing 11 fouls. Two Badgers, Alev Kelter and Monica Lam-Feist were booked by referee Khalef Allatayfeh for yellow cards in the second half.
The Illini maintain their position in second place with three regular season games remaining. Illinois travels to in-state rival Northwestern on Thursday, before visiting Nebraska on Sunday. I talked with Pawloski after the game about her game-winner and the team's winning streak. Janet Rayfield and I discussed the gray hairs this team is giving her with these 1-0 games.
Penn State 4 Iowa 0. Two more goals for Maya Hayes, who now has 21 for the season. Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year? Most likely.
Nebraska 3 Ohio State 2. That sound you hear may be Ohio State's NCAA Tournament chances slipping away. They need to pull up quickly.
Michigan 3 Purdue 1. A hat trick for Nkem Ezurike nets the Wolverines a must-win in West Lafayette. Michigan still has some work to do to get on the right side of the NCAA bubble.
Michigan State 2 Indiana 1 OT. How close was MSU to losing this one? Well, they were down 1-0 when IU's Becca Zambon was booked for her second yellow card of the game in the 81st minute. Then, MSU got the game-tying goal with just two seconds left in regulation when Olivia Stander converted a free kick from 25 yards out. Of course, the Spartans won in OT. Wow!
Minnesota 1 Northwestern 0. The Wildcats' two-game unbeaten streak comes to an end, as the Gophers get back to .500 in the Big Ten.
Updated Big Ten Standings:
More info in this week's full blog entry, most likely on Wednesday. Thanks for reading.