Redbirds to "Kick for a Cure" Sunday Against Loyola

Oct. 11, 2013

Week 8: Illinois state vs. loyola
Date: Oct. 13
Time: 1 p.m. CT
Location: Normal, Ill. (Adelaide Street Field)
Game Notes: Illinois State | Loyola
Listen: GoRedbirds.com (Casey Richards | Play-by-Play) - AudioNow (213-493-0196)
Live Stats: GameTracker
Twitter: @ISU_Soccer

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State soccer team (7-6-0, 1-0-0 MVC) welcomes Loyola (4-6-4, 1-1-0 MVC) to Adelaide Street Field, Sunday at 1 p.m., for a Missouri Valley Conference tilt. The match is the Redbirds’ third-annual “Kick for a Cure” game, during which they will wear pink uniforms to raise breast cancer awareness.

With wins in their last two matches, the Redbirds have climbed back above .500 for the third time this season. Their most-recent match was a 2-1 victory at Indiana State, Oct. 4, in the MVC opener. Despite the victory, the Redbirds were outshot 9-6, while posting their second-lowest shot total of the season. Head coach Drew Roff is happy with his team’s unblemished MVC mark, but realizes that his squad needs to take it to another level to compete for a conference title moving forward.

“That feeling that we have when we are really playing well and everybody is firing on all cylinders, we haven’t quite hit that gear yet,” Roff said. “We’re going to keep striving for that. This week is a big week for us, because we have a lot of time to practice and a big game on Sunday. I’m hoping that this Sunday is the start of something good for us.”

Scouting the Ramblers

After winning their MVC-opener, 2-1, against Indiana State on Sept. 27, the Ramblers have gone winless in their last three matches.

The Ramblers have utilized a balanced offensive attack under head coach Barry Bimbi in their first season in the Valley. Nine players have scored at least one goal, while 10 have tallied at least two points, which are both even with ISU for most in the conference. Junior Sammy Gage leads the way with four goals, which is double her career total coming in to this season. Freshman Shelby Koch has been utilized as a playmaker in the back, as she leads the team with four assists.

A stout defense is what has keyed the Ramblers, as they have not given up more than one goal in each of their wins and draws, while also posting four shutouts. Three of LU’s six returning starters from last year’s 8-9-3 team are defenders, while the Ramblers also brought back junior goalkeeper Monica Gonyo. After tying a LU single-season record with eight shutouts last season, Gonyo’s four this year are tied for the most in the league.

While Sunday’s match will be the first between the Redbirds and Ramblers as conference foes, the two squads have met 11 times previously. ISU holds an 8-3 mark against LU, including last season’s 1-0 victory on Oct. 3.

“It’s a team we’ve played in the past because of the proximity to Chicago, but never in a conference game,” Roff said of Loyola. “It’s always been one of those games where, like every game, you want to win, but it’s probably more preparation for conference play. Now, here we are in the same conference. It will be a little different, but we think we have a pretty good idea of what they do, and I’m sure they have a pretty good idea of what we do. We’re familiar with each other.”

Quick Kicks

  • TEJADA CONTINUES TO SHINE: Although she was held without a shot for just the second time in her career during ISU’s 2-1 win over Indiana State on Oct. 4, two-time MVC Player of Year Rachel Tejada finds herself atop the league’s leaderboards once again. After going goalless in the Redbirds’ first four matches, Tejada has scored in seven of the last nine, including six-straight games from Sept. 6-Sept. 22. She leads the league in points (23) and goals (nine), and is ranked 28th and 29th nationally in those categories.
  • VALLEY SUCCESS: Now in his seventh year at the helm, head coach Drew Roff has led his Redbird teams to a staggering 27-7-3 (.770) record in MVC games. Roff’s Redbirds have won four MVC regular-season titles, and three MVC Tournament crowns.
  • THE REDBIRD STATE: Sunday’s match against Loyola will mark the second for the Redbirds against a team from Illinois this season, the first being a 5-1 loss at Illinois, Sept. 1. Including an 8-3 mark against the Ramblers, ISU holds a 43-24-5 (.632) all-time record against teams from the state of Illinois. Additionally, head coach Drew Roff is 15-7-2 (.667) against in-state foes in now his seventh year at the helm. Assuming no postseason meetings, the two matches against teams from Illinois in 2013 will be the least during Roff’s tenure.
  • “D” TAKES SHAPE: After surrendering a combined 13 goals during a three-game losing streak from Aug. 25 through Sept. 1, the ISU defense has stiffened in its last nine matches, never allowing more than two goals during the 6-3 stretch. Goalkeeper Aryn Newsom has been solid as the last line of defense, as her goals-against average has dropped from 3.86 on Sept. 1 to 1.86 entering the week. Back Gabbi McArtor has each played every minute of those nine games, while Abby Van Deventer has gone the distance in eight-straight.
  • SPREADING THE WEALTH: Illinois State’s 26 goals and 2.00 goals-per-game are tops in the Valley, thanks in large part to a diverse offensive attack. Nine Redbirds have scored at least one goal and 10 have recorded at least two points, which are both tied with Loyola for most in the MVC.
  • “CROSS”ING THE COMPETITION: Known more for her goal-scoring ability coming into 2013 (eight in each of the past two seasons), senior forward Kyla Cross has assumed more of a playmaker role this season. Cross leads the Valley with six assists, which matches her career-high set as a sophomore in 2011, to go along with two goals. She ranks 33rd nationally with the six assists.

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