Illini soccer duo shares in U.S. title

Illini soccer duo shares in U.S. title

PANAMA CITY —  Illinois midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo and coach Janet Rayfield helped the United States win the Under-20 CONCACAF Championship soccer title.

The U.S. U20 Women’s National Team was undefeated in five matches at the U20 FIFA World Cup Qualifying tournament, a run capped by a 2-1 victory against Canada on Sunday in the championship contest.

DiBernardo appeared in all five matches, earning a pair of starts and scoring five points. The Illini sophomore’s performance was highlighted by her goal and assist in a 6-0 win against Panama. Afterward, selected DiBernardo as the Woman of the Match.

Rayfield served as an assistant to U.S. head coach Steve Swanson. Team USA finished the tournament with a  24-1 advantage in goals.
By advancing to the championship match, the U.S. clinched a berth in the U20 World Cup, which will be held Aug. 19 to Sept. 8 in Japan.

Illini hurlers honored. Illini junior Kevin Johnson was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and teammate John Kravetz was selected Big Ten Freshman of the Week, the conference office announced Monday.

Johnson pitched a complete-game four-hitter on Friday to lead Illinois to a  2-1 victory against No. 18 Oregon in the Nike College Showcase at Eugene, Ore. One day later, Kravetz held Connecticut to one run in 72/3 innings in a 5-1 Illini win at Corvallis, Ore.

Johnson is the first Illini to earn the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week award since Will Strack on March 30, 2009. The Freshman of the Week honor is Kravetz’s second in four weeks.

Maestas adds to awards. Illini gymnast C.J. Maestas earned his second straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor and school-record fifth overall on Monday.

The Corrales, N.M., native won the still rings and placed in the top six in three events to help No. 3 Illinois defeated No. 6 Minnesota and No. 10 Nebraska on Sunday at Lincoln, Neb.

The previous Illini record for Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades was four, which Maestas had shared with current junior Yoshi Mori.

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