Redbirds Battle to 3-2 Victory Over Miami (Ohio)
Kyla Cross scored twice for ISU, including the game-winner
Kyla Cross scored twice for ISU, including the game-winner

Aug 23, 2013

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NORMAL, Ill. - A first-half deficit, second-half equalizer, nearly 90-degree heat and red card issued to the keeper weren't enough to keep the Illinois State soccer team from winning its season-opening match, 3-2, against defending Mid-American Conference-champion Miami (Ohio), Friday evening at Adelaide Street Field. Kyla Cross scored twice, while Hannah Leinert netted the other goal and added an assist.

Cross broke a 2-2 deadlock in the 70th minute, converting a cross from Leinert into her second goal of the match. Just seven minutes later, however, ISU keeper Aryn Newsom received a red card for coming out and challenging Miami's Katy Dolesh for a ball rolling towards the penalty area. Despite going with just 10 players for the final 13 minutes, the Redbirds held the RedHawks without a shot in front of reserve keeper Laura Burrill to seal the 3-2 win.

"We responded very well to adversity all game," head coach Drew Roff said. "We gave up that second goal, and later went a man down. There were a lot of reasons why we could've said, `Hey, today is not our day.' We made some uncharacteristic mistakes, but we kept going. We kept plugging along.

"I'm really proud of how our team persevered, and did not give in to the heat or our opponent," Roff added. "It's a great sign of things to come."

After ISU controlled the tempo early, the RedHawks struck first in the 31st minute. Dolesh fired a shot that was saved, but bobbled, by Newsom. Kayla Zakrzewski was there to put the rebound in, making it 1-0 MU.

The Redbirds responded with two goals in the final 10 minutes of the half to gain a 2-1 advantage. Cross tied the match with her first tally in the 36th minute, taking a feed from Rachel Tejada at the 18, turning, and firing a shot with her left foot inside the left post.

Eight minutes later, with time winding down in the first half, Leinert put the Redbirds on top with her first-career goal. The freshman received a pass from Tejada and fired a shot that deflected off a RedHawk defender and by the keeper to put ISU up 2-1. Redshirt freshman back Rhianna Krutz also earned her first-career point with an assist on the play.

Dolesh scored an unassisted goal in the 56th minute to even the match, before Cross scored the game-winner. The tally was the result of a three-pass build-up from the back, but Roff says Cross' ability to finish fueled the Redbirds the entire match.

"I thought Kyla was a difference-maker today," Roff said. "There were times when we lost a little bit of our edge and the momentum. Instead of hiding, Kyla was looking for the ball, active, defending and dealing with some hard defending. Her performance was fantastic."

Cross and Leinert led the Redbirds with five shots apiece, while ISU outshot Miami 18-10. With the two assists, Tejada moves one shy of first place on the all-time Redbird list, with 21.

ISU next welcomes Big Ten foe Wisconsin to Adelaide Street Field, Sunday at 1 p.m. Newsom will not be able to play due to the red card.

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