U of I Release:
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Fighting Illini forward Jannelle Flaws set a school record and Illinois put itself in control of its own destiny for the Big Ten Tournament with a 2-0 shutout over Michigan State on Senior Day. Sunday's final regular season match at the Illinois Soccer Stadium was a scoreless, defensive battle until the 80th minute when Allie Osoba connected for the game winner in the box. Less than four minutes later, Flaws launched a free kick into the upper 90 for her program-best 19th goal of the season.
"We just stayed with it today," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "We were getting dangerous opportunities and lots of throw-ins. We were attacking the flank and they were having to knock balls out of bounds. That really was what got us the win today, just not getting frustrated that we couldn't find the back of the net and just staying with it."
Flaws, who broke Emily Brown's single-season school record (18) from 1999, ranks second in the nation with 19 goals in 2013. The Glenview, Ill., native maintained her Big Ten lead in the category when she curled a perfect free kick shot from 20 yards out into the upper-right corner, just inside the far post. The redshirt-junior is averaging over goal per game (1.06) and has found the net in 12 of 18 games. Her 11 goals during Big Ten play is also a school record.
"Battling back from injury and being able to do what I've wanted to do this year that I wish I could have done in past years is awesome, but I am way more pleased with the win and the shutout today," Flaws said. "That means more to me right now."
The scoreless contest was broken when Osoba scored her career-high fifth goal following the flip throw by senior Megan Pawloski, who collected her fifth assist. The Orland Park, Ill., native corralled the pass in the center of the box and fired it past the keeper for her second game-winning goal this season.
"Allie said that she felt that it was coming," Rayfield said. "It was just a matter of the ball finding the right place. Getting the first one helps you to relax and then Jannelle hit a great shot there on the free kick. She certainly struck that ball with confidence today and you can see the result of that."
The Illini's stingy defense matched their season-best total by only allowing five shots, including just one after halftime. Illinois held a 7-4 edge in shots in the scoreless first half and dominated the second half with a 10-1 advantage, with two shots finding the back of the net.
"We talk a lot about defense being the back four and the goalkeeper, but today that defense was really our midfield and forwards doing a lot of work to deny service," Rayfield said. "Our backs are getting better and better. Amy Feher had a great day today, getting up and down the flank and showed some real composure at the end of the game by just keeping the ball on the flank. This defense is maturing and it's a good time for that because we need to go into Minnesota with some confidence in our defense and some confidence in our attack."
Senior Lauren Parkin made her first career start in goal and played the opening 9:32 before freshman goalkeeper Claire Wheatley took over for the remainder of the game and saved both shots on frame. The two combined for their second shutout this year behind the back line of Christina Farrell, Casey Conine, Aliina Weykamp and Amy Feher.
Illinois earned its first shutout in Big Ten play and second overall this season. The Illini improved to 4-5-1 in the Big Ten (9-7-2 overall), which placed them into a tie for seventh with Iowa and Wisconsin heading into the final regular season match on Thursday at Minnesota. The Orange and Blue defeated both the Hawkeyes and Badgers during the regular season, meaning they hold the tiebreaker over each team.
Before the game, seven Illini seniors, Kassidy Brown, Vanessa DiBernardo, Christina Farrell, Kristen Gierman, Allie Osoba, Lauren Parkin and Megan Pawloski, were honored as part of Senior Day festivities.