Illini score ninth shutout

Josh Birnbaum The Daily Illini Illinois Jackie Santacaterina heads the ball away from Purdues Shauna Stapleton during the game at Illinois Soccer Stadium in Champaign on Friday, Oct. 20, 2006. Santacaterina scored her first career goal, helping Illinois defeat No. 17 Purdue, 2-0.

Josh Birnbaum The Daily Illini Illinois’ Jackie Santacaterina heads the ball away from Purdue’s Shauna Stapleton during the game at Illinois Soccer Stadium in Champaign on Friday, Oct. 20, 2006. Santacaterina scored her first career goal, helping Illinois defeat No. 17 Purdue, 2-0.

By Steve Contorno

After clinching the No. 2 spot in the Big Ten last weekend with wins over Purdue and Indiana, the Illinois women’s soccer team headed to Iowa for what would seem to be a meaningless game against the conference’s last place team.

But the Illini didn’t treat it that way.

With the majority of the regular starters getting the nod, Illinois (12-6-0, 8-2-0) came after Iowa (6-11-2) with full force, hoping to break the team’s record for most regular season conference wins in a season.

Iowa, however, played back and tried to beat Illinois purely on defense. But in the 68th minute, the familiar forward combination of junior Ella Masar and senior Jessica Bayne finally put points on the board. Masar, second in the conference with six assists, got behind the Hawkeye defense and sent a pass on the ground to Bayne, who took a shot on the right side of the box to give Illinois a 1-0 lead and Bayne’s team-leading seventh goal of the season.

Illinois held on to the lead to win the game 1-0 and tally their third consecutive shutout.

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    “It was a great way to go out,” Bayne said. “Obviously we’re upset we didn’t win the Big Ten outright, but still it’s a great win.”

    Illinois’ shutout was also their sixth against Big Ten opponents and ninth of the season. Bayne said the team’s defensive play has been a high point for Illinois all year.

    “We’ve really worked on not giving up goals,” Bayne said. “As long as we have good defense and keep the ball out of the net, I know that all of the forwards will score.”

    Illinois will look to continue their defensive dominance in the Big Ten tournament Thursday against Wisconsin. Illinois hasn’t come into the tournament as high as a No. 2 seed since 2003, which was also the last year the Illini were tournament champions.