Historic Season Ends With 3-0 Second-Round Loss at Michigan
Follow @ISURedbirds Tweet #backtheBirds
Nov. 22, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The best season in Illinois State soccer history came to a conclusion Friday night at the U-M Soccer Complex, as the Redbirds fell to third-seeded and 11th-ranked Michigan, 3-0, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. ISU matched the school-record with 14 wins, going 14-7-1, and became the first Missouri Valley Conference team to advance to the Round of 32.
The Wolverines (17-3-1) scored in the third minute of the match and did not look back, tallying twice more and becoming just the third team to shut out ISU this season. While head coach Drew Roff was not ready for his team's run to end, he feels the accomplishments and quality of the squad raised the bar for the program and the MVC moving forward.
"This team is a history-making group, and it has been an honor to work with them," Roff said. "The last month or so with this team has been one of the best months of my life as a coach. They were incredibly resilient and great teammates to one another. It has just been a privilege to work with them."
Michigan struck first at the 2:36 mark, when Madisson Lewis headed home a cross from Christina Ordonez at the back post. ISU bounced back from the early goal and stood toe-to-toe with the Wolverines for the majority of the first half, with Hannah Leinert, Anna Stinson and Rachel Tejada all generating dangerous opportunities.
"I knew they were very stingy defensively, and we score some goals and have some very dangerous players, so I didn't want to just bunker in and completely play for the counter," Roff said. "I wanted to see if we could play with them, and for the first half, I thought we did. I thought we created a couple of great chances."
Michigan entered the match 9-0 when leading at halftime, and showed why at the outset of the second half by seizing control of the match. Nkem Ezurike, the Wolverines' all-time points and goals leader, laced a shot into the back of the net in the 50th minute for her 14th goal of the season and a 2-0 lead. Just over 13 minutes later, Holly Hein headed home a corner kick from Shelina Zadorsky for U-M's final goal.
The defeat marks the end of the careers for ISU's three seniors - Kyla Cross, Allie Newsom and Stinson. The trio combined to make 65 of a possible 66 starts this season, and leaves as the second class in program-history to win three MVC Tournament titles and make three NCAA Tournament appearances. With 49 victories over the past four years, the group is the winningest Roff has had in his seven seasons at the helm of ISU.
"I couldn't have asked for a better hard-working team with a great group of girls," Cross said. "It took this group to do what we did and beat Louisville [to advance to the second round]. That was a very special game. Everybody put their heart and soul into everything, and that is all we can ask for as seniors."
"It was an awesome opportunity to be able to finish on this note," Stinson added. "Even though it is very bittersweet right now, it will be one of the most incredible memories I have ever had in my life."
Stinson led all ISU players with three shots, while Leinert had two. Aryn Newsom made 10 saves, as Michigan outshot ISU 33-9.
ISU will return eight of 11 starters and 15 of 18 letterwinners to next year's squad, including Tejada, who will enter the season as the NCAA Division I active career leader for goals and assists.
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.