Women avenge earlier loss against Gophers

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini defeated Minnesota 1-0 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., and will play either Michigan or No. 2 Penn State tonight at 6:30 p.m.

With the win the Illini avenge a 2-1 loss almost four weeks ago to the Gophers in Minnesota.

“In Minnesota when we scored the first goal we hit the easy button, but today we stayed focused for the full 90 minutes,” said Illini head coach Janet Rayfield.

Senior goalkeeper Rachel Frank got her second-straight start because sophomore goalie Lindsey Carstens suffered a broken fibula against Purdue a week ago.

Junior forward Jessica Bayne continued her good scoring record recently by tallying the only goal of the game in the 31st minute. The goal was her team-leading eighth of the season, but her contribution to the whole team’s effort did not go unnoticed by Rayfield.

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“Tonight, she stepped up her work rate, kept the pressure on their defense and helped out on the defensive end as well,” Rayfield said.

Bayne was the lucky recipient of a bad clearance by Gophers goalie Molly Schneider and Bayne was able to get by a defender and shoot past Schneider.

The Illini dominated the game and had outshot the Gophers 21-4 in the game. Seven of the Illini shots were on target while Minnesota could only manage a single shot on goal.

“If you look at the statistics, we were in their half most of the time and we also limited their opportunities to get into our defensive end,” Rayfield said.

While the Illini dominated, the game was also physical with both teams managing to combine for 32 fouls.

“That is what made if difficult for us to score because anytime we would get behind their defense they would foul us and it messed up our rhythm,” Rayfield said. “We are going to be banged up a little, but it kept us from getting behind them.”

Rayfield believed the Illini only managed one goal in the game because of the fouls and the physical play by Minnesota.

“We had a lot of shots, but most of them were from outside of the box,” Rayfield said.

This win is also the seventh straight year that the Illini have won a first round game in the Big Ten Tournament and the win improved the Illini record in one-goal games to 7-3.

“For tomorrow’s game the goal is not only to get shots, but to get shots closer to the goal,” Rayfield said.