Early Goal, Stout Defense Lead Redbirds to 2-1 Win at TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas - During its three-game losing streak, the Illinois State soccer team surrendered the game's first goal less than 10 minutes into each match. It was the Redbirds and Rachel Tejada striking first Friday night at TCU, however, setting the tone for a 2-1 victory over the Horned Frogs, the program's second all-time over a Big 12 team.
Tejada got the Redbirds (2-3-0) on the board in the game's 12th minute to put ISU up 1-0 and snap her career-long five-game goalless drought. Anna Stinson slid a pass through the TCU defense, leading Tejada into the penalty area. The junior converted the opportunity past TCU (2-2-1) keeper Vittoria Arnold to give ISU the lead.
"That was huge," head coach Drew Roff said of Tejada's goal. "Starting strong is something we've talked about the last couple weeks, and especially this week. We knew that being on the road after traveling this distance, to get down again would have been very demoralizing. We really emphasized a quick start, and I really like how we came out ready to play. That first one took some pressure off, and I think we could settle in and actually play the game the way we can play."
ISU took the 1-0 lead into halftime, despite being outshot by the Horned Frogs, 9-7, in the first 45 minutes. After a scoreless first 15-plus minutes of the second half, the Redbirds doubled their lead in the 62nd minute.
Tejada got control of the ball in the midfield, before playing a through ball to Hannah Leinert in the left side of the box. Leinert slipped a shot inside the right post for her team-leading third goal of the season, extending ISU's lead to 2-0. The assist was also the 22nd of Tejada's career, moving her into a tie atop the program's all-time leaderboard.
TCU cut the ISU lead in half with a goal in the 70th minute, when Meghan Murphy headed a Bobbi Clemmer corner kick into the back of the net. The Redbird defense held strong the rest of the way, however, completing the unit's best performance this season.
"It was a tremendous team effort," Roff said about the defense. "[Goalkeeper] Aryn Newsom did her job, and our back four was tremendous.
"From front to back, we defended very well as a group," Roff added. "Our reserves also played a big role in keeping the level high. Our depth really contributed to the win."
Newsom made five saves for ISU, including a diving stop on a header in the game's first minute that prevented the Redbirds from going down early again. Overall, the Horned Frogs outshot ISU, 17-14.
The Redbirds wrap up their stretch of four-straight road matches, Sunday at noon against Texas. The game will be televised on ESPN's Longhorn Network.
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