Anderson shuts door on foes

Anderson shuts door on foes

   CHAMPAIGN  Sarah Anderson and her teammates couldn''t remember any spectacular diving saves or leaping catches during the Illinois soccer team''s three-game shutout streak.

   The goalkeeper just recalls good decisions and relatively easy chances behind an improving, stifling defense.

   "She''s made the saves she''s needed to," head coach Tricia Taliaferro said. "She''s been very consistent."

   Consistency and a winning touch have earned Anderson the starting job as Illinois (10-5-0, 6-3-0) enters its final conference match today at Iowa. The freshman from Park Ridge is 5-0 in her five starts this season, and her 0.41 goals-against average is tops in the Big Ten. Anderson has not allowed a goal in a month and a half.

   "It''s all about the defense and the team," Anderson said. "If the team mixes together well and plays together, it''s nicer for me. I have great teammates in front of me, and it makes my job easier."

   She''s made 18 saves in those five starts as the Illini defensive unit has begun to dominate opposing attacks. Three straight shutouts of Ohio State, Purdue and Indiana gave Illinois a school-record eight for the season.

   "If I can help my team stay in the game and give us a chance to win, a chance to stay ahead, then I feel I''ve done my job," Anderson said.

   It''s nothing new for Anderson. At Maine South, she tied a state record with 15 consecutive shutouts and was an all-state pick her senior year.

   When starter Sarah Heggen injured her shoulder during the third game of the season, Anderson and junior Annemarie Hennes got their chance.

   Anderson started Illinois'' fourth game of the year and won 3-2 against Evansville. She also started and played half of an 8-0 victory against Northern Illinois two days later.

   "The coaches told me work hard, improve and show the desire, and you''ll get your chance out there," said Anderson, whose father, Randy, was a blocking back for Mike Adamle at Northwestern in the early 1970s.

   Hennes went 3-4 while starting the next seven games. She was in goal for a big win against Michigan State but suffered three conference losses.

   "It''s a tough decision on our coaches'' part," defender Heidi Holtzman said. "They put Anderson in, and she''s helped us out. She''s made big plays in the game and sparked us at times."

   Last week, Taliaferro settled on Anderson, who finished a 3-0 loss to Penn State before getting her starts. The coach expects her to start the rest of the season.

   "Right now, she''s hot, so you''ve got to go with her," Taliaferro said. "We kind of threw her into the deep end asking her to start for us. Any time you put a freshman in goal, you''re nervous because you don''t know how they''ll respond. But she''s done well. If somebody''s getting it done, that''s who you go with."

   With the defense set, Illinois can lock up at least a tie for second place in the conference.

   "You want to finish the Big Ten as hard as you can," Holtzman said. "We''re going in with the same attitude. We want to win and get a good seed for the Big Ten tournament."

STANDING TALL

   Illinois'' Sarah Anderson has posted three straight shutouts in goal heading into today''s game at Iowa. Here''s a look at the Big Ten goalkeeping leaders.

Name, School, Year, Games, Shutouts, Record, GAA

   Sarah Anderson, Illinois, Fr., 6, 3.5, 5-0-0, 0.41

   Emily Oleksiuk, Penn State, Jr., 15, 8.5, 13-2-1, 0.54

   Chrissy Heubi, Indiana, Sr., 7, 4.5, 5-1-1, 0.57

   Suzie Grech, Michigan, Fr., 8, 3, 5-1-0, 0.63

   Elizabeth Boldt, Purdue, Jr., 13, 5.5, 9-4-0, 0.63

   Sara Kloosterman, MSU, Sr., 15, 7.5, 10-3-2, 0.67

   Kelly Conway, Wisconsin, So., 16, 5, 11-5-0, 0.83

   Julie Eibensteiner, Minnesota, Jr., 14, 5, 7-6-0, 1.25

   Liz Hendel, Iowa, So., 16, 3.5, 10-6-0, 1.50

   Erin Ekeberg, Northwestern, Sr., 14, 2, 3-10-1, 1.61

Sections (3):Illini Sports, Sports, Soccer
Categories (3):Illini Sports, Soccer, Sports

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