Redbirds Cap Perfect MVC Slate with 3-1 Win at Missouri State
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Oct. 31, 2013Final Stats | Roff Postgame Interview
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Entering Thursday night's match at Missouri State, the Illinois State soccer team had not scored a goal at Plaster Field since 2005. That changed quickly, as Rachel Tejada scored in the seventh minute before Kyla Cross added another less than six minutes later, as the Redbirds completed a perfect Missouri Valley Conference schedule with a 3-1 win, their seventh-straight.
The 2013 Redbirds (12-6-0, 6-0-0 MVC) are just the fourth team all-time to go perfect in MVC play, and first since Drake in 2004. This year's group is also the second ISU team to achieve the feat, joining the 2001 squad. While ISU already had the regular-season title and conference tournament's top seed wrapped up entering the match, head coach Drew Roff and his team were motivated by the chance to join elite company.
"Our players really wanted to get that win," Roff said. "To them, running the table was important, and we obviously want to be in good form for the conference tournament coming up. I was impressed with how well we competed at times, because it was a physical game and this is a tough place to play. I was afraid that maybe we wouldn't want it as badly as Missouri State, but our players did want it, and we did what we had to do."
Tejada got the Redbirds on the board in the seventh minute with her league-leading 14th goal of the season, becoming the Valley's all-time points leader in the process. Dagny Olson chipped a pass to Tejada, who was challenged by MSU keeper Jessica Perry at the top of the penalty area. Tejada got to the ball first and headed a shot over Perry that trickled over the end line to make it 1-0 ISU.
With the goal, Tejada surpassed Evansville's Kayla Lambert, who played for the Purple Aces from 2005-08, as the league's all-time points leader. The Redbird junior now has 133 for her career, on 53 goals and a program-best 27 assists. Olson's assist was her third of the season, and 15th point.
Cross doubled the Redbird advantage less than six minutes later. The senior dribbled into the box from the right side of the field, creating separation from a MSU defender as she went. Eventually, Cross let loose a low shot that snuck through the legs of Perry to give the Redbirds a 2-0 advantage. The goal was Cross' fifth of the season, and third in the past four games.
The Bears climbed back within one in the 21st minute, when Molly Brewer found the back of the net on a free kick from 20 yards out. The goal was the first Illinois State had allowed since Oct. 4, and snapped a streak of four-straight shutouts.
ISU took the 2-1 lead into halftime, owning a 6-5 advantage in shots.
Hannah Leinert pushed the advantage back to two with a fantastic individual effort in the 62nd minute. The freshman cleared space with a couple quick touches in the upper-right corner of the penalty area, before unleashing a left-footed shot into the upper-left corner of the net. The goal was her 10th of the season and gave her 26 points, both second-best in the Valley.
ISU enters the MVC Tournament as the top seed, and receives a bye into the semifinals. The Redbirds will open postseason play Friday, Nov. 8 in Evansville, Ind., against the winner of the Evansville at Missouri State quarterfinal match.
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