Redbirds Set for First-Ever Trip to Lone Star State
Sept. 5, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - Mired in a three-game losing streak, the Illinois State soccer team (1-3-0) will look to turn things around this weekend with two games against Big 12 competition during the program's first-ever trip to the Lone Star State. The Redbirds will square off against TCU, Friday at 7 p.m., before taking on Texas, Sunday at noon.
ISU is coming off a weekend in which it was outscored 9-1 by Minnesota and Illinois combined, contributing to the program's slowest start since 1997. With four challenging matches up to this point, and two more expected this weekend, head coach Drew Roff hopes the difficult schedule will bring out the confidence and talent he knows his team possesses.
"Early in the season, it's nice to get a couple tough games and a couple games where you can keep the ball, get in a rhythm and maybe score some goals and get everybody excited," Roff said. "Right now, we're kind of missing that game that gets us playing with confidence and allows us to dictate the tempo. That's been tough, but if you want to play at that level, you have to see it.
"We have good players who I truly believe will turn the corner," Roff added. "That's the frustrating thing, because I feel we should be better right now, but it's also the encouraging thing, because there is still a very high ceiling for this team."
Illinois State has played only two programs from the Big 12 all-time, going 0-4-1 against Iowa State and 1-3-0 against Kansas. Roff believes that some fresh competition could be what his team needs at this juncture in the season.
"It is fun sometimes to play those teams that you don't have emotional ties or rivalries to," Roff said. "To just go focus on yourself and play the best soccer that you can, I think that's what we need right now."
Scouting the Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs enter the weekend 2-1-1 overall and unbeaten in their last three matches. Last weekend, TCU battled No. 25 LSU to a 0-0 draw, before topping Houston Baptist in overtime, 2-1. Scoring both goals in the most recent victory was sophomore Makenzie Koch, who leads the team with three goals, two assists and eight points. Freshman
TCU entered 2013 looking to build upon a 2012 campaign that was the first for head coach Eric Bell. The squad went 7-10-4 overall and 1-5-2 in the Big 12, but showed promise by advancing to the Big 12 Tournament championship match. Eight starters return from that team, and are bolstered by 15 newcomers (13 freshmen and two transfers).
"TCU is a program that is building and getting stronger," Roff said. "I know they have some players from the Chicago area that have ties to some of our players. They've got some talented young players, but they seem to be a little bit on the youthful side, similar to us in some areas of the field."
Scouting the Longhorns
Like Illinois State, the Longhorns have gone winless since being victorious in their opening match, dropping to 1-2-1 with a pair of losses at Oregon State and Oregon last weekend. Second-year head coach Angela Kelly led Texas to an 8-10-2 overall mark last year, and returns eight starters and 18 letterwinners, only two of which are seniors. Junior Brooke Gilbert leads the squad with two goals and four points, while six-foot tall sophomore Lindsey Meyer is second on the team with three points (one goal, one assist). While she has not scored a goal yet in 2013, junior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle led Texas last season with five goals. Headlining a stout Texas defensive unit is sophomore goalkeeper Abby Smith, who was the only Longhorn named preseason All-Big 12.
"As you might expect, Texas is a very athletic team," Roff said. "They play a little bit more direct, somewhat similar to Minnesota. We know they have some special players. It will be a tough match."
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.