Final: Michigan 2, Illinois 1
Final: Illinois 1, Michigan 1
Michigan is using its home-field advantage as much as possible this weekend. As the eighth seed, the Wolverines pulled off their second upset in as many nights with a 2-1 win over third-seeded Illinois, and will advance to the Tournament Final against Wisconsin.
A free kick opportunity by the Wolverines about 25 yards out on the right side of the goal put Michigan up 2-1 in the 53rd minute. Judy Coffman took the free kick and put the ball just underneath the crossbar and over a leaping Rachael Frank to take a 2-1 lead that would prove to hold up.
Illinois brought the pressure early on, creating two good scoring chances early on as Jessica Bayne, Kristy Weeks and Natasha Karniski combined twice on the right side to slide the ball towards the front of the goal, but twice were denied by defenders.
On a counter attack, Michigan's best chance early on was created by a through ball to Therese Heaton, was in alone in front of the goal but couldn't get around Illinois goalkeeper Rachel Frank.
The next dangerous opportunity for either team came in the 22nd minute when Bayne got in behind the defense, but was unable to slot the ball past Michigan goalkeeper Megan Tuura as she dove to knock the ball away.
Illinois finally broke through in the 23rd minute when Bayne played a cross into the box from the right side that forward Eva Strickland was able to head home. Strickland's header was a fast shot that hit the net just under the crossbar.
At the 30 minute, the Wolverines answered back. Boyle put a through ball on the ground which Melissa Dobbyn ran onto. Dobbyn stepped around goalkeeper Frank and hit the back of the virtually empty net.
Both teams exchanged dangerous opportunities, with Dobbyn again getting behind the defense before having a shot blocked by a defender tracking back. Bayne then outran the Michigan defense on the other side, but could not make the final turn on the goal line, and her shot hit the outside of the net.
The teams battled evenly throughout much of half, exchanging well-designed attacks that spanned the length of the field using many short passes. Coffman's goal in the 53rd minute proved to be the game winner, as Tuura and the defense held on to the one-goal lead despite the increased pressure from the Illini.
Michigan head coach Debbie Rademacher said, "We're in the finals and we know what this tournament means. As far as being motivated and having something to motivate us, the enormity of it is motivation enough. For us, it's important just getting back to feeling good with some spring in our legs and keeping the momentum."