Northover's Goal Clinches MVC Regular Season Title For Redbirds
Oct. 28, 2007
NORMAL, Ill. - For the first time since 2003, the Illinois State women's soccer team is the Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion. The Redbirds (8-4-3, 4-0-2 MVC) clinched the title with a 2-1 win over Drake (6-9-2, 3-3-0 MVC) on Sunday, Oct 28; their first-ever victory over the Bulldogs in eight all-time meetings. On Senior Day, it was only fitting that the Redbirds were led by their seniors in their final home game. Yvonne Northover and Bethany Russ each scored a goal and Shannon Duggan picked up an assist to reward a senior class that had never finished above fourth place in the conference.
Illinois State finished the conference schedule without a loss for the first time since 2001, when the Redbirds were 6-0-0, and is the only undefeated Valley team this season. The Redbirds receive a first round bye in the upcoming State Farm MVC Tournament along with Evansville, who came in second place. They will play the winner of the No. 4 Drake/No. 5 Missouri State game on Friday, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m. at Black Beauty Field in Evansville.
Head coach Drew Roff became the first coach in the history of the Valley to win the regular season title in his first year. He credits the work and dedication of his players, especially the seniors, for the Redbirds' success this season.
"With it being Senior Day, I told the players we were going to do it with the seniors," Roff said. "We started all six that could play and they really stepped up. Being a new coach, I give the credit to them. Coaching changes can be difficult, but everyone put in a lot of hard work over the past eight months and I am happy we could have a Senior Day that we all will remember for a long time. We started off the game really well, but Drake took the momentum for a little while in the beginning of the second half. To our credit, though, we regained our composure and things started to go back our way."
The Redbirds wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as they took the ball right downfield after the kickoff. Duggan came free on the left side and crossed the ball into Russ who was wide open in the penalty box and put away a shot to the far side just 43 seconds into the game. It was the fastest goal the Redbirds have scored this season.
With the tally, Russ increased her team-leading goal total to seven on the season and broke her tie with teammate Mel Routledge to take sole possession of fifth place on the ISU all-time goals list (14) and fourth place in points (35). Duggan's assist was her third of the year, putting her in second place on the team.
Neither team had a shot until the 17th minute when Drake had a breakaway on the Redbird goal. The ball was passed over to Melissa Lewis in the middle of the field and she had a wide open look at the net, but sophomore Katie Grill-Donovan came up with a one-handed save to deflect the ball wide.
At the 27 minute mark, Drake switched its goalkeeper, putting Jenny Schroeder in for starter Alyssa Lee. The Redbirds tested her right away as Northover took a shot from close range that Schroeder was able to save. Routledge made a play on the rebound, but her shot went wide into the side of the net.
Duggan tried to extend the ISU lead two minutes into the second period with a shot from the left side, but it was right at Schroeder. The Bulldogs went on a counter attack and tied the game when Sarah Foote chipped a ball into the penalty box from the left side and Nikki Thaden drove it past Grill-Donovan. Drake continued to put the pressure on the Redbird defense, controlling the ball and registering three shots in the next five minutes.
In the 65th minute, ISU had a free kick after a Drake foul and Northover took advantage of it. With the ball placed in the middle of the field, 25 yards away from the goal, Northover ripped a shot over the Drake defenders and into the top corner of the net to give the Redbirds back the lead.
Northover's goal was her sixth of the season, a career high, and increased her team-leading point total to 18. She is now in sole possession of ninth place on the school's career goals list (11) and is tied for eighth place in points (31). She has recorded a point in every Redbird win this season.
In the 80th minute, the Redbirds nearly capitalized on another free kick when freshman Bethany Brown headed the ball just wide of the net. Drake struggled to get any offensive opportunities as the Redbird defense played tight. As the clock wound down under 10 seconds, the Bulldogs made one last push and almost tied the game. With the final seconds ticking away, the ball was played toward the right corner of the ISU goal and a Drake player took a shot that got past Grill-Donovan and into the net, but it was a second after time expired.
Illinois State closes out the regular season with a Halloween match against Eastern Illinois on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 3 p.m.