No. 3 Illinois Shuts Out Wisconsin, 3-0
Nov. 2, 2006
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 2 Illinois came out in the second game of the 2006 Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament with all engines firing. The Illini's relentless offense capitalized on a free kick from Eva Strickland midway through the first half and never let seventh-seeded Wisconsin regain its footing, claiming a 3-0 win to advance to their eighth-straight tournament semifinal.
Right after a collision between Masar and Wisconsin's Natalie Horner stopped the game at the 24:50 mark, Strickland took the free kick for the Illini and drilled the game-winning goal in the upper right corner of the net. The goal marked her third on the season. The senior forward's two previous scores were also the game-winners against Syracuse and Wisconsin.
Less than three minutes later, Strickland darted through the Badger defense and dished a shot to Ella Masar, who sent it sailing past Wisconsin's Stefani Szczechowski between the for posts her seventh score of the season. The goal stretched the Illini lead to two in the 28th minute.
The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Masar came out firing, making the game's first attempt third minute. After driving into the box, Masar's first shot was blocked. She snagged the rebound and her second kick soared above the cross bar, but the senior forward's persistency paid off midway through the first half. She delivered five shots in 27 minutes.
Illinois controlled the second half on their offensive end. In the 54th minute, a yellowcard on Wisconsin's Kara Kabellis opened up another big scoring opportunity. On the ensuing corner kick from Kristy Weeks, senior forward Jessica Bayne's kick sailed just beyond the cross bar to keep the Illinois lead at 2-0.
That status didn't last long ad Chichi Nweke made it 3-0 Illini in the 57th minute, posting her seventh goal of the season on a pass from Jessica Levitt. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year came off the bench to score her seventh goal of the season.
Lindsey Walker tried to keep the Badgers' title hopes alive with a close shot in the 73th minute, but Illinois goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens made her sixth stop of the game en route to her ninth shutout of the year.
The No. 7 Badgers entered last year's postseason event in the same seed and went on to win the 2005 tournament title. With the loss the Badgers fall to 7-9-3 overall. Illinois, which improves to 13-6, will face Purdue in Friday's first semifinal game at 4:30 p.m. ET.