CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Vanessa DiBernardo impressed many in her sixth game of the season, earning her second career hat trick in a 3-2 come from behind win over Michigan State on Oct. 4 to move the Illini to 4-1-1 in Big Ten play. As a result, DiBernardo was recognized as player of the week (POTW) by the Big Ten, Top Drawer Soccer and College Sports Madness.
The Big Ten co-offensive POTW is the first award to an Illini this season as DiBernardo tallied her second, third and fourth goals on the year. In total, Vanessa has now earned her fifth career conference offensive POTW honor after securing three her freshman year and then one last season. Nebraska's Mayme Conroy was the other co-offensive recipient.
DiBernardo was also announced as TopDrawerSoccer.com's player of the week amongst all women's soccer division-one student athletes in the nation. Furthermore, CollegeSportsMadness.com picked DiBernardo as the POTW amongst all Big Ten women's soccer players.
The Naperville native scored all three of her goals in a variety of ways Thursday night. Her first strike came from a penalty pick which she acquired after taking a shot in the box that was blocked by a defender's hand. DiBernardo found space for her second goal after some quick passes with Megan Pawloski. Her shot knuckled over the goalkeeper, off the bottom half of the crossbar and into the goal. For her third and final tally, the junior curved a free kick from approximately 23 yards out that swerved into the near post and away from the keeper.
DiBernardo now leads the team with eight points on four goals. Her 41 shots in conference competition not only leads the Orange and Blue, but also all of the Big Ten. In addition, she is is now third on the Illinois career scoring list with 31 goals and tied for fourth with Jessica Bayne in Illinois career points with 66.
Vanessa and the rest of the Illini return to action when they travel to Minnesota on Friday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. CT, then Wisconsin on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 4 p.m. CT. The Illinois-Wisconsin showdown will air live on the Big Ten Network.