Illini finding her way
Freshman Tiffani Walker isn''t having any trouble finding the back of the net in her first year at Illinois. Now if she can only find her math class.
Two days after scoring her first goal as an Illini in a win at Eastern Illinois, Walker scored two more Sunday as the UI women beat Kansas 4-0 at Illinois Field.
Walker is a long way from home, but the freshman from Seattle is having no trouble adapting to college life in Illinois.
"It hasn''t been tough," Walker said. "I haven''t got homesick or anything yet, its just been really different.
"Finding my classes hasn''t been too difficult. If you have a map, you''re fine. I had a hard time finding my math class, but my teammates have helped me a lot."
Walker''s first-half goals, on assists by junior forward Lisa Baldwin, allowed the Illini (2-0) to jump out in front of the Jayhawks early.
"I was just in the right place at the right time on the first goal," Walker said. "The keeper deflected the ball, and I just put it in. The other one was just a loose ball that I got a head on and it went in."
Midfielders Hollie Schurr and Tara Schuling added goals in the second half to put the game away.
Juniors Sara Heggen and Annemarie Hennes shared the goalkeeping duties, each collecting one save.
"I''m excited about what we did today," second-year coach Tricia Taliaferro said. "There are definitely some things that we can do better, but the more we play, the better we''re going to get."
Taliaferro likes the way Walker is adjusting.
"She''s doing really well," Taliaferro said. "She''s big and strong and fast, and we like to get her involved in the offense."
The Illini have steadily improved since their first campaign in 1997. When the first poll comes out later this year, the Illini should be ranked. Although Taliaferro has high expectations for her club, continued improvement is her main concern.
"We just want to improve on what we did last year," Taliaferro said. "Obviously we''d like to win the Big Ten, but its something that we''re going to have to work on."
Walker''s goals include going to the postseason in her first year in an Illini uniform.
"We have a really good team this year with a lot of depth," Walker said. "I think our goal is to win the Big Ten and to get into the NCAA tournament, and I think we can do it."