Sept. 16, 2012
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Iowa women’s soccer team was defeated for the first time this season, falling at Illinois on Sunday afternoon. The Fighting Illini (4-3-1, 1-0-0) edged the 25th-ranked Hawkeyes (9-1-0, 0-1-0), 2-1, at the Illinois Soccer and Track Complex.
The Hawkeyes, who won nine straight matches before the contest en route to their best start in program history, threatened the Fighting Illini, but couldn’t overcome two one-goal deficits. Iowa got a goal in the 22nd minute from junior Alex Melin, but Fighting Illini goals from Vanessa DiBernardo (3′) and Nicole Breece (28′) provided the difference.
Illinois was at full-strength for the first time this season, returning two key members of its team, as head coach Janet Rayfield and DiBernardo returned from winning a U-20 World Cup title in Japan for the U.S. National Team. All three of Illinois’ losses this season have been to ranked opponents.
“I thought our squad worked hard, and that both teams were playing tough,” said UI head coach Ron Rainey. “We had some really good moments of possession that led to good scoring opportunities in the first half, but unfortunately we couldn’t recreate them in the second half.”
The Fighting Illini opened the scoring in the third minute, as DiBernardo scored the match’s opening goal. It was the first goal the Hawkeyes have allowed in the first half all season.
The Hawkeyes evened the match in the 22nd minute off a tremendous set piece. Sophomore Melanie Pickert sent a free kick from 40-yards out into a mass of bodies within the 19-yard box, where Melin was able to win the ball in the air and head it to goal near the penalty marker. It was Melin’s first goal of the season, and ninth of her career.
Illinois would reclaim the lead in the 28th minute, as a flip throw from Megan Pawloski was headed in by Breece just six-yards out.
Iowa tallied six shots in the second half, but none could get past Fighting Illini goalkeeper Steph Panozzo. The Hawkeyes wouldn’t make it easy on Panozzo, as the keeper had to save a hard-hit shot from sophomore Katie Nasenbenny in the 63rd minute.
Freshman Hannah Clark started the second half for Iowa between the posts, holding Illinois scoreless in the second frame. Clark recorded six saves. Freshman Meg Goodson started for the Hawkeyes, notching two saves.
Melin led the Hawkeye offense with six shots, two shots on target and a goal. Senior Dana Dalrymple also had three shots, while Nasenbenny had two. The Hawkeyes finished with 13 total shots, six of which went on target.
“The team is excited to be at home, and get back into a normal practice routine and normal school routine,” said Rainey. “We will really have to demand that we have our best week of practice to feel confident going up against Indiana.”
The University of Iowa women’s soccer team will be back in action on Sept. 21, as the Hawkeyes return to the Iowa Soccer Complex for the first time in four matches. Iowa will meet Indiana at 7 p.m.