CHAMPAIGN — It took one shot for the Illinois soccer team to realize how much it missed Vanessa DiBernardo.
The Illini struggled to score in the nonconference portion of their schedule, racking up just six goals in seven matches — including three in one match.
The Illini soccer team enters its Big Ten opener Sunday against visiting Iowa with a 3-3-1 record. Staff writer Jeff Huth pinpoints three key areas for Illinois as it looks to get on a roll:
The goal is goals
Illini soccer player Vanessa DiBernardo returned to campus this week with a gold medal in hand and stories to tell from the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Japan. Yes, the junior midfielder still is coping with jet lag, but she perks right up when asked about the title she and her U.S. teammates captured Saturday in Tokyo.
TOKYO — Feel free to call Vanessa DiBernardo the Golden Girl. The Illinois soccer player has the medal to prove it.
DiBernardo and her teammates on the U.S. Under-20 National Team finally cracked what had been an impenetrable German defense and held on win 1-0 Saturday in the gold-medal match of the FIFA U20 Women's World Cup at Tokyo National Stadium.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Illini held No. 11 Virginia Tech to one goal but couldn't score themselves in losing their opening match of the Wake Forest Invitational.
The Hokies improved to 7-0-0 after handing Illinois (3-2-1) its second shutout loss of the season. The Illini also failed to score against then-No. 5 UCLA on Aug. 26 in Los Angeles.
TOKYO — Vanessa DiBernardo's quest to bring a gold medal back to campus remained on track Tuesday, as the Illinois midfielder helped the U.S. Under-20 National Team defeat Nigeria 2-0 in the semifinals of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup soccer tournament.
Morgan Brian and Kealia Ohai each scored their first goals of the event as the Americans advanced to Saturday's title match.
CHAMPAIGN — Nicole Denenberg, Taylore Peterson and Marissa Holden each tallied their first goals of the season, leading Illinois to a 3-1 soccer victory against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Monday in a match that was delayed by the remnants of Hurricane Isaac.
Megan Pawloski and Nicole Breece picked up their first assists of the season, and Kristen Gierman collected her second.