Illini soccer falls to Wisconsin in OT

U of I Sports Information:

MADISON, Wis. - Illinois lost a hard fought 2-1 game in overtime at Wisconsin this afternoon. Marissa Holden scored the lone goal for the Orange and Blue. It was the senior's second goal of the season and third in her career. However, Wisconsin tallied a goal with seven minutes left in the game and clinched the game-winner in the second overtime period. 

"I thought we started this game with the right mentality and showed that we had rebounded from our poor performance on Friday," said head coach Janet Rayfield. "However, this team is learning just how hard it is to battle through adversity and to try and focus on the things that they can control and leave everything on the field of competition. Sometimes the difference is mental toughness and resolve more than technique or tactics. It is that area that we need to strengthen and soon."

It was a cold, windy and rainy day in Madison, as both squads had to adapt to the slick and wet conditions on the pitch. As a result, Illinois and Wisconsin battled for possession for the majority of the first half, as few scoring opportunities were presented. 

Vanessa DiBernardo recorded the first shot for the Illini, when she utilized the slick ground to one-hop a shot to the Badgers' goalkeeper Genevieve Richard. The Wisconsin keeper was once again tested in the 34th-minute when DiBernardo sent a through ball to Marissa Holden who then released an off-balanced low shot.

However, Holden would find her goal in the 42nd-minute on a play that once again started with DiBernardo. Vanessa dribbled the ball up the left side of the field nearing the Wisconsin end-line. Her cross was headed away by a Badgers' defender but the ball found Holden's feet about 20 yards out at the top left portion of the box. Marissa took one-touch then struck a left-footed shot that went over the keeper's reach and into the far post. 

DiBernardo nearly added to their lead off a free-kick in the 52nd-minute. Her shot knuckled over the wall and began to bend to the near post. Genevieve Richard then leaped and tipped the ball, which hit the cross bar before going over the goal. On the ensuing corner kick, Taylore Peterson's shot was blocked deep in the box as the threat was then removed.

Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo preserved the lead in the 70th-minute with one of her patented point-blank reaction saves. A Wisconsin free kick sent the ball into the Illinois box where it bounced around for several seconds before finding the Badgers' leading goal scorer Cara Walls. The sophomore then released a low shot from around 10 yards out right at Panozzo.

Yet, the Badgers would eventually find the equalizer in the 83rd-minute when they capitalized off of an Illinois turnover. An Illinois back pass skidded underneath the foot of an Illini defender and was collected by Wisconsin's Lindsey Holmes inside the box where she finished off the play. 

After no goals in the final seven minutes of play, the two squads entered into overtime. The Illini have played in two overtime games this season, with both the Illinois State and Purdue games ending in a draw. 

Wisconsin threatened early when they received a corner kick in the 92nd-minute. The ball landed inside the six-yard box  where it was headed on goal by Walls, but Panozzo was in great position for the save. 

Two minutes later, Niki Read drew a foul that led to a free kick taken by DiBernardo. The shot from about 23 yards out was tipped over the crossbar by Richard. DiBernardo's pass from the ensuing corner kick found Kassidy Brown at the top of the box but her shot went just high. 

Then, 44 seconds into the second overtime period, Cara Walls delivered the game-winner for the Badgers. Walls, who was waiting around the penalty marker, received a cross from the left flank, spun around the Illinois defender and placed the ball into the corner of the net. 

Illinois drops to 7-6-2 overall and 4-3-1 in Big Ten competition while Wisconsin moves to 10-5-1 overall and 3-4-1 in conference play.

Illinois suffers back-to-back losses for just the second time this season. In addition, the Illini lost their first game this season when scoring first as their winning streak in that scenario was snapped at 31 games, spanning the previous three seasons. 

Illinois and Wisconsin tied in the number of total shots with 15 each. The Illini produced seven shots on goal compared to the Badgers' 10. Also, the two squads tied in the amount of corner kicks earned with five. Finally, Steph Panozzo finished with eight saves in the contest bringing her season total to 66.

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