Oct. 29, 2011
Site: Champaign, Ill. (Illinois Soccer & Track Stadium)
Score: #20 Illinois 3, Michigan 2
Records: U-M (9-8-2, 4-6-1 Big Ten), Illinois (14-4-1, 8-2-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Season Complete
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Despite goals in the second half from sophomore Nkem Ezurike (Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia/Sackville) and senior Kim Siebert (Troy, Mich./Avondale), the University of Michigan women's soccer team could not overcome No. 20 Illinois, suffering a season-ending 3-2 loss on Saturday night (Oct. 29) at the Illinois Soccer & Track Stadium.
Michigan needed a win and help from Indiana in order to advance to the Big Ten Tournament next week. Minnesota and Iowa clinched bids into the tournament with wins in its respective contests, leaving the final spot up for grabs between Michigan and Ohio State. The Wolverines needed a win against Illinois, and also needed Indiana to beat or draw Ohio State tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 30) in Columbus in order to advance. Ohio State holds the tiebreaker over Michigan due to winning the head-to-head result last Friday (Oct. 21), and will be the seventh seed, while Northwestern, which gets in regardless of record by virtue of hosting, will be the eighth seed.
Illinois struck first, scoring on a Jannelle Flaws goal in the 28th minute. Flaws gathered a low cross sent into the box from the corner and poked it into the back left corner of the net to give Illinois a 1-0 lead. The Fighting Illini took advantage of a Michigan error and put another in the back of the net to increase their lead to 2-0.
With their season on the line, the Wolverines were aggressive in the second half, and got on the board in the 73rd minute thanks to Ezurike. Freshman Christina Murillo (Ojai, Calif./Nordhoff) sent a long pass to Ezurike, who corralled the ball and connected on a shot into the lower right corner of the net to cut the Illinois lead to 2-1.
Michigan's momentum was stopped in the 84th minute, as Illinois converted a penalty kick to extend the lead to two goals once again, at 3-1. The Wolverines got it right back, however, when Siebert scored her first collegiate goal in the 85th minute, on an assist from Ezurike. But that was unfortunately the last opportunity of the game for the Wolverines, as time ran out and Illinois held on for a 3-2 victory.
U-M senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer (Troy, Mich./Lahser) made 10 saves in the loss, closing out her season total at 115, the most in Michigan history; the previous mark was 99. She has also made 297 saves for her career, and will enter next season just 25 saves shy of tying the school record for career saves, currently held by Megan Tuura (322, 2003-06).
Scoring, Time (Assist)
1st -- Illinois, Jannelle Flaws, 28:14 (Kassidy Brown)
2nd -- Illinois, Julie Ewing, 51:31 (Brown)
2nd -- U-M, Nkem Ezurike, 73:46 (Christina Murillo)
2nd -- Illinois, Jenna Carosio, 83:56 (penalty kick)
2nd -- U-M, Kim Siebert, 85:48 (Ezurike)
Shots: U-M 15, Illinois 16
Shots on Goal: U-M 7, Illinois 13
Saves: U-M 10 (Haley Kopmeyer), Illinois 5 (Steph Panozzo)
Corner Kicks: U-M 3, Illinois 6
Cards: U-M, Kristen Goncalves, 75:15 (Yellow); Illinois, Marissa Mykines, 39:10 (Yellow).
N O T E S
Michigan falls to 11-7-1 all-time against Illinois.
Michigan finished the season with a 9-8-2 record, giving the Wolverines back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Prior to Siebert's goal, Ezurike had scored the last seven goals for the Wolverines. She finished the year with 11 goals, tying her with four other players for eighth on the school's all-time list for most goals scored in a season.
Siebert scored her first collegiate goal with what was five minutes left in her collegiate career. She was also the 10th different player to score a goal this season, and 13th player to record a point.
Saturday's game was the last in a Michigan uniform for seniors Kristen Goncalves, Courtney Mercier and Kim Siebert. The Wolverines had the fewest amount of seniors of any team in the Big Ten, and second-most underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores - 19).
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Greg Ryan
On the game against Illinois ... "In the first half, we played very tentatively. We didn't go out and fight as a team to win the game. We let them take it to us. We talked about it at half, and it was just a completely different team in the second half. The girls fought their hearts out, even down 2-0. You just can't spot good teams a half, and that's what we gave them. In the second half, we played harder, and when you play harder, you get more confidence and you get more chances."
On the season as a whole ... "The lesson is that you can't let down in any game. In the end, once we lost Meghan and Holly, we knew it was going to be very difficult for us. We just didn't have the depth we needed. A healthy Meghan Toohey completely changes this team, and Holly is rock solid in the back. That adversity, to have seven players with season-ending injuries or illnesses, is pretty rare. I've never run into it before, when you had this many things go wrong. Saying that, I think we had a chance in just about every game. I'm proud of our girls. They did the best they could, but it's certainly disappointing how the season turned out, but in terms of the results and the way we lost players."
On Kim Siebert ... "At 3-1 and four minutes to go in the game, you're saying 'okay, this is the way it's going to end,' and then Kimmy Siebert gets a goal. Her mom was here to see it. We played her higher up, Nkem slipped her a great ball, and the goalkeeper had no chance."
On the senior class ... "They finished on the field, and all had great nights. It was good to see them finish out with a great second-half effort. Really proud of those three. We're going to miss them, because they've been great role models and leaders for our team."
On what needs to improve next season ... "Tonight was a very good lesson for us. We need to bring it for every game. We've been up and down this season, and haven't been real consistent in our efforts. I'm pretty confident that next year's team will definitely bring it. The adversity we played with, we've got plenty of excuses, but we don't want to use those. We want to find a way to make it happen. We need to sit down and analyze every aspect on why we weren't able to make it to the Big Ten Tournament, and what needs to improve next season."
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423