ISU Soccer Opens 2008 Season This Weekend
Mel Routledge
Mel Routledge

Aug. 21, 2008

NORMAL, Ill. - With the earliest start to a season in program history, the Illinois State women's soccer team will begin its defense of the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title this weekend with a pair of games. The Redbirds host IPFW in the season-opener Friday at 3 p.m. and visit Green Bay Sunday at noon. The Redbirds are 6-4-2 all-time in season-openers.

Illinois State has 12 letterwinners returning from last season and adds on 10 new members to the roster. Head coach Drew Roff is excited to start the season and intrigued how his new team will perform.

"We are all very excited to kick off the 2008 season this weekend," Roff said. "Our players have worked very hard in training to prepare but there is a certain level of match fitness and match sharpness that can only be achieved by playing games. We expect to use this weekend's games as an opportunity to get better collectively as a team and also as an opportunity to evaluate players individually. With a young team there are more questions than answers at this point in the season, but it really makes this opening weekend that much more exciting. In order for us to have success we will need our veteran players to step up and lead the way and we will have to play extremely hard from the first whistle to the last."

Photos ISU Game Notes | Photos  2008 Media Guide | 2008 Schedule | 2008 Valley Preseason Poll

WELCOME BACK Although ISU lost seven letterwinners from 2007, the Redbirds do return 12 letterwinners, including six starters. Two of last year's top-scorers return in senior forward Mel Routledge and junior midfielder Ammanda Wisniewski and nearly the entire defensive unit is still intact.

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD Sunday's game against Green Bay starts a seven-game road trip for the Redbirds, which is tied for the longest in school history. ISU played seven-consecutive road games in 2006, posting a 1-4-2 record. This season's road trip includes a two-game swing in Chicago over Labor Day weekend and ISU's first-ever trip to Florida for a pair of games.

ROUTLEDGE LOVES GREEN BAY Senior forward Mel Routledge loves to see Green Bay on the schedule. In three games against the Phoenix, Routledge has recorded a pair of multi-goal games. She scored the decisive final two goals in a 4-2 win as a freshman in 2005 and provided all the scoring in a 2-0 triumph last season.

ISU TABBED SECOND IN MVC PRESEASON POLL Illinois State was picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, released on Tuesday, Aug. 19 by the conference office. The Redbirds received 37 votes, coming in second behind Creighton (46). The Redbirds also earned two first place votes. Junior back Danielle Mutters and junior midfielder Raquel Rattray both were named to the Preseason All-Valley Team.