Redbirds Advance to MVC Title Match With 2-1 Win Over Creighton
Senior Heather Sterling cleared a potential game-tying goal off the line in the 88th minute to help preserve the win

Senior Heather Sterling cleared a potential game-tying goal off the line in the 88th minute to help preserve the win

Nov. 2, 2012

Box Score | Postgame Interview

OMAHA, Neb. - Rachel Tejada's two goals led the second-seeded Illinois State soccer team (12-4-2, 4-2-0 MVC) to a 2-1 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinal victory over the sixth-seeded and tournament-host Creighton Bluejays (3-13-3, 0-6-0 MVC), Friday evening at Morrison Stadium. The Redbirds will attempt to win back-to-back MVC Tournament titles in Sunday's championship match against fifth-seeded Indiana State.

Tejada scored the game-winning goal, her league-leading 17th of the season, in the 81st minute. The sophomore was played in behind the Creighton defense and approached Bluejay keeper Katie Jo Swanson one-on-one. With Swanson stopping Tejada on a similar situation just minutes before, the 2012 MVC Player of the Year this time decided to dribble around the keeper, sneaking a shot inside the back post from the right side of the net.

"It was a special performance from Rachel tonight," head coach Drew Roff said. "We were not creating a ton of chances, and we had a little bit of trouble keeping the ball. It wasn't our finest performance, so we needed someone to step up and make plays. That's what Rachel does."

After the goal, the Redbird defense and goalkeeper Aryn Newsom preserved the victory down the stretch. Newsom made a save on Creighton's Kyla Booker in the 86th minute before the Bluejays earned a corner kick in the 88th minute. Creighton sent two headers towards the net, but Heather Sterling cleared the first one off the line before Newsom stopped the second attempt. Creighton didn't register a shot the rest of the match.

The Redbirds have won 10 of their 12 games this season by one goal, while playing in 13 one-goal games overall. Both numbers are program-records.

"I give our team a lot of credit for knowing how to close out games, and doing what they have to do," Roff said. "This time of year, you take any type of win you can get. It's all about advancing. Our team likes to make it interesting. We don't like to do anything easy, but we have a lot of tough players that know how to grind those games out."

Tejada scored in the sixth minute for the second-consecutive match to get the Redbirds on the board first. She collected a ball with her back to the goal from roughly 23 yards out, turned, and fired a shot by Swanson to give ISU the early lead.

The Bluejays responded, however, controlling most of the possession before equalizing in the 37th minute. The Jays earned a free kick from roughly 26 yards out when Alyse Williams was whistled for a foul. Creighton's Gabriela Guillen curled the kick inside the left post to even the match before the half.

All in all, the Redbirds outshot the Bluejays 20-14. Tejada led all players with eight shots and a career-high seven shots on goal. Newsom made eight saves for the second-straight match to earn her ninth win of the season.

With the win, seniors Rachel Bostick, Sarah Carlson, Kristin Cooley, Mara Kremenovic, Kelly Rosenthal and Sterling eclipse last year's seniors as the winningest in Roff's tenure at Illinois State. The group has won 46 games over the past four seasons, and has the chance to become the first group in program history to win three MVC Tournament titles.

The championship match against the Sycamores is set for 3:06 p.m., on Sunday. It will be televised live on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Indiana, FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX College Sports Central, ESPN3 (outside of the Valley footprint), DirecTV (Channel 671), Dish Network (Channel 418) and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 748), with Sean Wheelock and Dave Dir providing the commentary. The match will also be broadcasted on the WJBC/Country Financial Illinois State Radio Network and GoRedbirds.com.

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