Nov. 4, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The No. 2 seed Ohio State women's soccer team defeated No. 5 seed Illinois, 2-1, to win the third Big Ten Tournament title in program history Sunday afternoon at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. The Buckeyes tie the 2004 team for the longest win streak in program history at nine, improving their record to 16-4-1 on the season.
"We had a very difficult start to the season losing our first two games on the road, but we vowed to get better every single game and every single week in training and it has showed as this team has come so far," head coach Lori Walker said. "To play three games in five days is just really grueling and I'm very pleased with our performance."
In a physical, back-and-forth first half, neither team was able to muster many chances as the game was scoreless after 45 minutes.
The first chance came in the seventh minute when Illinois midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo possessed inside the box and fired a shot but Ohio State goalkeeper Jillian McVicker was able to come up with the diving save.
The Buckeyes' best opportunity came in the 13th minute when Aly Walker slipped free in the box on a free kick by Megan Fuller but the header sailed just over the crossbar as the game remained scoreless.
Ohio State held a 6-5 advantage in shots before the half but the Illini were able to put four on goal to two for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes came out of the break strong, taking the 1-0 lead in the 65th minute when Tiffany Cameron tallied her team-high 19th goal of the season. Megan Scoliere played a corner to the center of the box which was headed on by Lauren Granberg before Cameron possessed inside the six-yard box, turned and finished past Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo.
Less than a minute later, Michela Paradiso controlled at the center of the box and fired from 10 yards but her shot caromed off the crossbar and out of play. Cameron then added an insurance tally in the 69th minute when she controlled a through ball from Paradiso with her back to goal at the top of the box and finished far post for a 2-0 Ohio State advantage.
Ellyn Gruber almost made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute but her shot from 10 yards was lifted just over the crossbar and out of play. Panozzo then made consecutive diving saves on shots in the next minute on shots by Cameron and Kristen Niederhaus to keep it a 2-0 Ohio State lead.
Illinois tried to cut the Buckeye lead in half in the 80th minute but McVicker came up big again with a diving save on a wide-open shot from eight yards by Nicole Breece. The Illini then got on the board less than three minutes later when Allie Osoba headed home a far-post cross from DiBernardo to cut the lead to 2-1 but Illinois couldn't add another as the Buckeyes joined the 2002 and 2004 squads as Big Ten Tournament champions.
For the game, Ohio State outshot Illinois, 19-7, with both teams putting seven shots on frame. Cameron led the Buckeyes with six shots, including four on goal, while McVicker tallied a career-high six saves.
"I had really struggled in the first two games of the tournament but my teammates really lifted me up," Cameron said. "People always talk about good players showing up when their team needs them most and I'm glad I was able to do that today."
Cameron was named the Offensive Player of the Tournament while McVicker garnered Defensive Player of the Tournament honors. Cameron, McVicker and Granberg were each named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team.
The Buckeyes await their NCAA Tournament selection which will be decided at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Fans can follow online at http://go.osu.edu/NCAASelectionShow.