Redbirds Open MVC Title Defense at Evansville Sunday
Sept. 22, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - The quest for the fifth Missouri Valley Conference title in head coach Drew Roff's six years for the Illinois State soccer team begins Sunday afternoon in Evansville, Ind., as the Redbirds will take on the Purple Aces at 1 p.m. Illinois State (6-2-2) is riding a season-high three-match winning streak, while Evansville (1-6-2) is coming off two-straight draws.
"Everybody gets a clean slate, no matter what has happened," head coach Drew Roff said of entering MVC play. "For all of us, it's about conference play. We want to win that championship in the Valley. Evansville is going to be ready to go. It will be a nice atmosphere, and we are looking forward to getting Valley play underway."
The Purple Aces have scored just five goals in nine games, with freshman Kayla Smith's two lead¬ing the way. Fellow freshman Abby Springer has also scored a goal while tallying an assist, with junior Lauren Tiernan record¬ing the team's other helper. The Purple Aces feature an experi¬enced back line anchored by seniors Kasey Cartwright and Olivia Robinson. Senior Chaviel Harrison started all 20 matches in goal last season for UE, but freshman Simone Busby has challenged her for playing time, allowing only one goal in 283:53 minutes. The Purple Aces are coached by Krista McKendree, the only All-American in program history.
The Redbirds and Purple Aces have met every season the ISU program has been in existence, with ISU leading the all-time series 10-6-3. The two squads met twice last season, with the Redbirds knocking off the Purple Aces 3-1 during the regular season and 6-0 in the semifinals of the MVC Tournament.
Despite entering the week ranked in the top-10 nationally in goals, points, points per game and goals per game, sophomore Rachel Tejada has been held goalless her last two matches. Tejada has scored more goals against Evansville than any other opponent in her brief career, however, scoring twice in each game last season.
"Evansville is very aggressive, especially defensively," Tejada said. "When I would receive the ball against them last season, there were always one or two girls right on my back. I just need to be composed with the ball, make smart decisions with it, and hopefully we will be successful."
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