Illinois Advances to Tournament Final With 1-0 Win
Nov. 3, 2006
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eva Strickland got second-seeded Illinois started off on the right foot for the second-straight game with a first-half goal against third-seeded Purdue in the Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament semifinals. The early score stood behind the Illinois defense and a career-day from goalkeeper Lindsay Carstens, giving Illinois a 1-0 victory.
With the win, Illinois advances to the championship game for the first time since 2003. In that edition of the postseason event, the Illini were seeded second and went on to down Michigan in the title match for their first-ever Big Ten Tournament crown.
With a little more than three minutes off the clock, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Ella Strickland dished the ball to Strickland, who nailed a cross into the right pocket of the net. Strickland counted her fourth goal of the season and second of the tournament to give Illinois an early 1-0 lead.
Despite out-shooting the Illini 10-5 in the first half, the Boilermakers couldn't muster any momentum offensively. Purdue lined up for its first corner kick opportunity of the game with a little more than 15 minutes left in the half, but an Illinois defender quickly ended the scoring chance, clearing Shauna Stapleton's shot with a header.
For the remainder of the half, most of the action stayed around midfield with both defenses turning up the pressure.
Illinois' offense threatened again late in the first period on a free kick. Jessica Bayne drilled the ball into a wall of Purdue defenders, but the rebound bounced right back to the Illinois senior. Bayne delivered the ball to Jackie Santacaterina but her shot sailed just wide of right post, keeping the score 1-0.
In the second stanza, Purdue looked poised for an outbreak but couldn't capitalize on back-to-back corner situations in the 60th minute.
Illinois had a golden opportunity to score with 27 minutes left in the game when Kristy Weeks found herself lined up with a straight shot from the top of the 18-yard box. Weeks' nailed a shot toward the near goal post but Purdue goalkeeper Lauren Mason made a horizontal leap to make the save.
Purdue had two dangerous chances to level the score in the 77th minute, but Illinois' Carstens came up with two huge saves, reeling in Katie Grambeau's shot and Jill Sarbaugh's header seconds later. Carstens made a career-high eight saves in the Illini victory.
The Illini await the winner of top-seeded Penn State versus fifth-seeded Michigan who will do battle in the night's second semifinal game. The championship contest will kick off at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday at Jeffrey Field. CSTV will broadcast the title match on a tape-delay basis on Monday at 2 p.m. ET.