Illini's DiBernardo takes huge step

[BIG TEN] Vanessa DiBernardo, the daughter of former U.S. international Angelo DiBernardo, scored the golden goal that gave Illinois its second Big championship with a 2-1 win over top seed Penn State on Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t even know what to say about the tenacity and determination of this team,” Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield said. “When it went to overtime, they suddenly came alive and said ‘overtime is our time.’ We had to keep them from running out on to the field to get it started. This team showed a lot of heart since going 0-2-1 to start the Big Ten season to be here right now. It shows how much this team has grown in the last 12 weeks and this is a great moment for them to enjoy.”

In the 93rd minute, DiBernardo controlled a pass from midfielder Nicole Denenberg and placed a shot into the lower left corner of the goal. The goal was her 17th of the season

“[Today is] a great step forward for Vanessa in terms of mental toughness,” Rayfield said. “She is a great player and when you are a great player you are going to get hit a lot. She took a lot of knocks today and kept on going and that is a huge step for her. Getting that goal [in overtime] is going to show Vanessa she can be tough in addition to being technical.”

Illini scored first with an early goal from Julie Ewing, but Maya Hayes, the NCAA's scoring leader, scored her 27th goal in the 33rd minute to even the score.

2011 Big Ten All-Tournament Team
Vanessa DiBernardo, Illinois
Marissa Mykines, Illinois
Stephanie Panozzo, Illinois
Emily Moran, Iowa
Jill Fliestra, Michigan State
Shari Eckstrom, Minnesota
Nicole Jewell, Northwestern
Danielle Scoliere, Ohio State
Jess Rosenbluth, Penn State
Emma Thomson, Penn State
Megan Flannery, Wisconsin
2011 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Tournament
Marissa Mykines, Illinois

2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Tournament
Stephanie Panozzo, Illinois

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