Salina Williford scored with less than seven minutes remaining as No. 8 Penn State remained the lone unbeaten team in Big Ten play with a 2-1 triumph over Illinois at Jeffrey Field.
All of the scoring came in the second half as the Nittany Lions (10-1 overall, 5-0 league) battled against the Illini (9-3, 4-2).
Frannie Crouse got Penn State on the board first with her seventh goal of the season. Emily Hurd stole the ball from an Illinois player and fed Crouse, who beat Illinois goalie Claire Wheatley from 10 yards out at the 62:23 mark.
The Fighting Illini tied it less than a minute later on Jannelle Flaws’ 14th goal.
The score remained tied until Williford scored her third career goal, all of which have come in the last four matches. She took a pass for Megan Schafer, dribbled away from the defense and left-footed a shot inside the nearside post.
“Our slogan all season long has been ‘find a way’ and today was just that — we had to find a way,” said Penn State coach Erica Walsh. “The Tuesday, Friday, Sunday stretch was the toughest stretch of our season and to come out of that with three wins is massive.”
Penn State outshot Illinois 19-6. Britt Eckerstom had three saves for the Nittany Lions, while Wheatley had eight.
Penn State next plays at Wisconsin on Friday.