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Illinois edges Bulldogs 1-0

Enma Mullo (Photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)
Enma Mullo (Photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)

Winning Goal Comes Early In Second Half

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's soccer team's quest to open the 2010 season with back-to-back victories over Big Ten opponents came up just short. Jordan Hilbrands scored off a corner kick early in the second half to lift Illinois to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs on a glorious afternoon at Reese Stadium.

Yale, which had knocked off 16th-ranked Penn State on Friday, had a number of opportunities to tie the score but couldn't capitalize.

"It's very difficult to play two tough teams back-to-back," said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith. "I give our kids a lot of credit. They really battled hard."

Illinois, who received votes in this week's NSCAA national poll, had a big edge in possession and scoring chances in the first half. Yale goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu, though, made a couple of nice saves to keep the game scoreless. She snared Vanessa DiBernardo's hard shot from right in front in the 17th minute and then dove to her right to deny Niki Read a few minutes later.

"Illinois is one of the best passing teams I've ever coached against," Meredith said. "When we lost the ball, it was tough to get it back."

The Illini (4-1) finally broke through at 53:26 off a corner kick. Marissa Mykines sent the ball into the box. Sumiyasu reached high to stop Krystin Miller's shot, but Hilbrands was right there to bang in the rebound.

Illinois' goal seemed to inspire the Bulldogs, who had the better of the play for much of the rest of the game. Becky Brown, who scored the game-winner on Friday against Penn State, was dangerous again on Sunday. In the 71st minute, her left-footed blast from just inside the box was deflected over the cross bar by Illini goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka.

Kapicka, who came on at the start of the second half, thwarted Brown again less than 10 minutes. This time, Kapicka made a diving stop after Brown got behind the defense.

Yale (1-1) had a 9-5 edge in shots in the second half. Kapicka finished with five saves, while Sumiyasu stopped eight shots.

Seventeen different players saw time for Yale.

"I thought the kids off the bench did a good job for us," Meredith said. "They showed they can contribute."

Despite Sunday's loss, Meredith is pleased with where his team stands after two games.

"All in all, I'm very happy with the weekend," he said. "If you had told me before the season that we would be 1-1 after two games, I would have taken it. I think we learned that we can compete with these types of programs."

The road doesn't get any easier for the Bulldogs, who play at UConn on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity