Oct. 27, 2012
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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (U-M Soccer Stadium)
Score: Illinois 3, #24 Michigan 2 (OT)
Records: U-M (13-4-2, 7-2-2 Big Ten), Illinois (9-7-2, 6-4-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Wednesday, Oct. 31 -- vs. Wisconsin - Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals (Bloomington, Ind.), 7:30 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 24-ranked University of Michigan women's soccer team held a 2-0 lead early in the second half after goals by juniors Nkem Ezurike (Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia/Sackville) and Tori McCombs (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry) but yielded three unanswered scores -- the final one 3:45 into the first OT -- to fall to Illinois, 3-2, on Saturday (Oct. 27) at U-M Soccer Stadium. After her team tied the contest with six minutes left, Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo converted a penalty kick in the 94th minute for the game-winning goal. It is U-M's first home loss of 2012.
Ezurike opened the scoring for the Wolverines in the 26th minute of the opening frame. Junior Meghan Toohey (Philadelphia, Pa./Phil-Mont Christian) received the ball on the right edge of the 18-yard box and played a ball across the goal between Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo and an Illinois defender. There was a miscommunication between the two players, which left the ball to deflect off Panozzo directly to the feet of Ezurike about three yards out, where she slotted the ball home for her 11th goal of the season.
The Wolverines pushed their lead to 2-0 in the 49th minute when McCombs scored her second goal of the season. Freshman Corinne Harris (Chicago, Ill./Walter Payton College Prep) found McCombs streaking down the left flank, and McCombs sent a high, lofting ball towards the goal that flew over the outstretched hands of Panozzo, hitting the post then Panozzo's back and into the net.
Three minutes later, DiBernardo cut the lead in half to 2-1, when she beat her defender on the top of the box and struck a left-footed shot from 20 yards out that deflected off the left post and into the net.
The Wolverines were on the offensive for much of the second half, and the crossbar kept Ezurike from adding to Michigan's lead on two occasions. The first came in the 59th minute when she headed the ball off the crossbar after a well-placed free kick by sophomore Christina Murillo (Ojai, Calif./Nordhoff). Nearly 10 minutes later, Ezurike held off a couple of defenders and sent a lofted shot over Panozzo, but it again bounced off the crossbar. Harris grabbed the rebound, but her header was saved.
With exactly six minutes left in regulation, Niki Read added a second goal for the Illini to tie the match at 2-2. DiBernardo received a ball off a cross from the right flank and played a first-touch pass to Read, who hit a low, one-timed shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
Michigan had two quality scoring chances in the final two minutes of the second half, both coming from Toohey. Both chances were low, hard shots from the top of the 18-yard box, one deflecting wide off the right post, and the other was pushed wide to the right by Panozzo for her fourth save of the contest. The Wolverines were unable to convert on two corner kicks in the final minute of the match, sending the match to overtime with a score of 2-2.
Four minutes into the overtime period, a foul was called on Michigan inside of the penalty area, and Illinois was awarded a penalty kick. DiBernardo was called on to take the shot for the Illini and struck a well-placed ball into the upper-left corner of the net to win the match.
Fifth-year senior Haley Kopmeyer (Troy, Mich./Lahser) made eight saves in the contest.
The Wolverines will return to the pitch on Wednesday (Oct. 31) at 7:30 p.m. to take part in the Big Ten Tournament in Bloomington, Ind., as the No. 3 seed against No. 6 seed Wisconsin. It will be Michigan's first Ben Ten Tournament berth since 2006. The quarterfinals will be streamed online via the MGoBlue.com All-Access player.
Scoring, Time (Assist)
1st -- U-M, Nkem Ezurike, 25:33 (unassisted)
2nd -- U-M, Tori McCombs, 48:20 (Corinne Harris)
2nd -- ILL, Vanessa DiBernardo, 61:37 (unassisted)
2nd -- ILL, Niki Read, 84:00 (DiBernardo)
OT -- ILL, DiBernardo, 93:45 (penalty kick)
Shots: U-M 16, ILL 17
Shots on Goal: U-M 6, ILL 11
Saves: U-M 8 (Haley Kopmeyer), ILL 4 (Steph Panozzo)
Corner Kicks: U-M 5, ILL 3
Cards: ILL, Taylore Peterson, 58:12 (Yellow).
N O T E S
The loss is Michigan's first at the U-M Soccer Stadium this season. At 9-1-0, this is Michigan's best home record in a single season since 2002 (12-1).
U-M falls to 11-8-1 all-time against Illinois.
All 11 of Nkem Ezurike's goals came in Big Ten play.
Tori McCombs scored her second goal of the season. Her other goal came on Aug. 17 against Fordham.
Michigan beat Wisconsin, 3-0, in the team's regular-season meeting on Sept. 23 in Madison.
With the goal, Ezurike moves into a tie for fourth place all-time for career goals (31). She is tied with Therese Heaton (2002-05) and Jessica Limauro (1995-98). Ezurike also moves into seventh place for career points (70).
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423