U of I Sports Information:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - When Illinois traveled to Michigan today, the Orange and Blue were searching for their first win in Ann Arbor in the program's history, and by the end of the evening the Illini achieved just that. Down two goals in the second half, Illinois rallied to force overtime where Vanessa DiBernardo clinched the game with a successful penalty kick.
"This is the type of fight, relentless and timely composure this team has been searching for all year," said head coach Janet Rayfield. "Our ability to stay with it down two goals shows that this team has learned from the past and is ready to go into the Big Ten Tournament as fighters."
The first half was an unfortunate one for the Orange and Blue as they outshot the Wolverines 8-4, including five shots on goal, yet it was one of Michigan's two shots on goal that resulted in a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
In the 26th-minute, the Wolverines capitalized on a rebound off of Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo. Nkem Ezurike collected the ricochet and placed the ball into the back of the net for her team-leading 11th goal of the season.
Illinois bounced back immediately, nearly equalizing it one minute later when Nicole Breece collected the ball inside the Michigan box. The freshman made a move around the defender and placed a shot on goal, but Haley Kopmeyer was able to make the save.
The Illini then produced another near miss in the 43rd-minute when Vanessa DiBernardo's shot from just inside the box went inches right of the post.
It was the same story to start the second half as Illinois was able to push the ball into the offensive third but it was the Wolverines that capitalized on the chances they produced. In the 49th-minute, Michigan's Tori McCombs sent an intended cross deep into the Illinois box from the left side. The ball floated over Panozzo's head and banked off the far post and in for the 2-0 lead. The assist was credited to Corinne Harris.
However, Vanessa DiBernardo cut the deficit in the 62nd-minute when she stole possession from the Wolverines, released a left footed shot from the top of the 18-yard box that bent over the keeper, off the crossbar and into the net. The goal was DiBernardo's team-leading seventh goal on the year.
The Orange and Blue continued to rally and found the equalizer in the 84th-minute, tying the game at two. Niki Read scored her second goal of the season and has now scored in back-to-back games. DiBernardo was credited with the assist.
The Illinois defense stayed strong in the final minutes of the period, staving off the ensuing Michigan attack. The Wolverines tallied four shots and two corners but Panozzo and company were able to hold.
Then Breece provided the magic in overtime. Just 30 seconds after she was subbed back into the game, Breece drew a foul in the Michigan box in the 94th-minute, thus earning the penalty kick for the Illini. DiBernardo stepped up and converted her eighth goal of the season, fifth point on the night and second game-winner on the year.
Illinois finished with 17 shots with 11 on goal compared to Michigan's 16 shots with six on goal. The Wolverines did enjoy the corner kick advantage, 5-3 in their favor. In addition, Steph Panozzo finished with four saves in the Illini win.
As a result, Illinois gave Michigan their first loss at home this season. In addition, the Illini earned their first win over a ranked opponent this year.
Furthermore, the Orange and Blue advance to 5-0 this season when they have scored at least two goals and have now won their past 77 games when netting at least three.
Illinois jumps to 9-7-2 overall and 6-4-1 in Big Ten competition while Michigan drops to 13-4-2 overall and 7-2-2 in conference play.
Next up, Illinois will look to repeat as Big Ten Tournament Champions as the eight team tournament kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Indiana University. This year, Illinois will enter as the five seed.
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