Focus helps team triumph over Raiders

Freshmen were the story of Illinois’ 3-1 win against Wright State on Tuesday.l

In the 29th minute of the first half Vanessa DiBernardo scored on a front flip throw-in from fellow freshman Megan Pawloski. And the other two goals for the Illini were scored on the Raider’s true freshman goalie, Brooke McCurdy.

“It’s always nice to score a goal,” DiBernardo said. “A throw-in is just as good as a cross so if you can get it into the box it can definitely create damage.”

With exception of one crucial minute Illinois was in control of the first half. The Orange and Blue possessed the ball for the majority of the time and had more shots on goal than the Raiders 19-2.

Despite the large shot differential and multiple scoring opportunities the Illini were only able to score one goal in the first half.

“There were lots of opportunities and we were focused on that this early in the season,” head coach Janet Rayfield said.

“We’re a dynamic attacking team, let’s get lots of chances. If we get 34 shots we hope a lot more get in the back of the net than that against a real good defensive team,” Rayfield added. “I think we created a lot of chances and from a lot of different players and a lot of different places.”

And even worse for the Illini was with less than a minute left till the half, the Raiders scored to even the game 1-1.

“That one goal was not what we needed,” junior Jenna Carosio said.

“We need to stay focused the whole game,” Carosio added. “We need to stay communicating with each other and stay focused. We only needed to stay focused for 30 more seconds but we couldn’t do it. Part of it is mental but obviously we got to work on it now.”

In the second half Wright State stepped up their level of intensity, using the momentum of their late first half goal.

But on a pair of goals by two players who rarely if ever find the back of the net, the Orange and Blue secured the victory against the Raiders.

Thirty-two minutes into that half and with the game still tied at one-a-piece, sophomore Nicole Denenberg put the Illini ahead.

The Chicago, Ill., native took a pass from sophomore Niki Read inside the box, scoring off the post and into the goal. The goal was the first of Denenberg’s career.

“I just want to get out there and play and it was even better with the goal,” Denenberg said. “My position is to stand at the top of the box so I just stood there and aimed at the corner. It was more exciting than there being pressure. I was just focusing and looking at the corners to score.”

Five minutes later, Carosio fired a shot low after recovering a deflection by the Raider’s goalie to score her first goal of the season seal the game for the Illini.

“This team should define themselves by 34 chances but I want this team to be confident that 34 chances will turn into a lot more goals,” Rayfield said. “If we can continue to create these chances then those chances will turn into goals.”