Illini finish impressive season in soccer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State coach Patrick Farmer knows a little something about building a women's soccer program.
Seven years ago, he started the Nittany Lions team. By 1999, Penn State was a Final Four team and a national power.
And Farmer knows the Illini about as well as his own team after playing them three times this season.
"I was talking it over with my assistants, and I think Illinois is farther along after four years than we were," Farmer said. "They open up the field more than any other team we've faced. More than (Connecticut), more than North Carolina."
The Illini (14-8) ended their record-setting season with a 1-0 overtime loss to Penn State on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. It was the second time in nine days the two Big Ten rivals went to overtime.
The Nittany Lions (21-2-1), who beat Illinois 2-1 in triple overtime last week in the Big Ten tournament, got the win when Erin Miller's 20-yard blast sailed over Illini goalkeeper Sarah Anderson in the 99th minute.
"This has been a fantastic experience," UI coach Tricia Taliaferro said. "To play in a do-or-die environment is going to make us a better team."
Illinois had its most successful season, setting marks for wins (14), conference victories (six), shutouts (10), goals (57) and fewest goals allowed (27).
Making the NCAA tournament for the first time and being surrounded by her jubilant players on selection Sunday was the highlight for Taliaferro.
"I think being selected sticks out," she said. "To see how excited our players were to be in it is a great memory."
Their final game of 2000 also was memorable. Penn State outshot the Illini 25-8, but Illinois' Emily Brown had two quality chances go shot just wide of Nittany Lions keeper Emily Oleksiuk.
"We had a few chances," Brown said. "We had a few balls slip through."
Anderson was the star in the second half, stopping Big Ten Player of the Year Christie Welsh on a rebound.
Anderson made seven saves and was down for about five minutes after colliding with Penn State's Kris Phillips while making a stop. The freshman finished the game.
"Our defense stifled a lot of their opportunities," Anderson said. "So Penn State couldn't get than many good shots off."