Redbirds Host Evansville on Senior and Heidecke Day, Sunday
Oct. 19, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - Winners of four-straight matches, the Illinois State soccer team (9-6-0, 3-0-0 Missouri Valley Conference) puts its unbeaten Valley record and first-place position on the line against defending MVC regular-season champion Evansville (9-3-2, 2-1-1 MVC), Sunday at 1 p.m., at Adelaide Street Field.
Sunday's match will be the second of the week for the Redbirds, who won at Northern Iowa, 5-0, Thursday evening. The five goals were a season-high for ISU, which entered Thursday's match with just three goals combined in its first two MVC games. Head coach Drew Roff hopes that the offensive onslaught was a sign of things to come moving forward for his talented squad.
"We have a lot of weapons," Roff said following Thursday's win. "Getting them all to play together and bringing it on the same day is what our goal was. I thought today was a great start, and hopefully they continue to do that."
Surrounding Sunday's match will be a pair of annual ceremonies. First, the Redbirds' three seniors - Kyla Cross, Allie Newsom and Anna Stinson - will be recognized before the match for their contributions to the program. The group has won 44 games during their time at ISU, which is four wins shy of surpassing last year's group as the winningest class in Roff's tenure.
Following the game, players, coaches and fans will gather to honor former Redbird player Julie Heidecke, who passed away in an automobile accident in 1998. In her one season with the Redbirds, Heidecke's personality and demeanor inspired teammates and coaches. As a result, former head coach Pete Kowall, the Julie Heidecke Foundation and ISU Athletics established an award in her memory to recognize a Redbird soccer player following Heidecke's path in commitment, spirit, determination, leadership, sportsmanship, academics, morality and concern for others. Now in its 16th year, the award will be presented following Sunday's match in front of the Julie Heidecke Tribute Tree, which is at the entrance of Adelaide Street Field.
"Sunday is a day where we want to celebrate our seniors and the life of Julie Heidecke, who is an important part of our program," Roff said. "Our players always seem to step up and play with a little extra energy and determination on this day."
Scouting the Purple Aces
The Purple Aces have built upon their surprise MVC regular-season title in 2012 with the best overall record in the Valley, entering Sunday's match at 9-3-2 overall. However, UE is winless in its last two matches, dropping to 2-1-1 in MVC action with a 1-0 loss at Indiana State, Wednesday.
Leading Evansville this season has been a stingy defense that has surrendered just eight goals all year. The unit is anchored by junior Taylor Brand, who was an All-MVC Second Team selection last season and has been named the MVC Defensive Player of the Week five times this year. Sophomore goalkeeper Simone Busby has been vital to UE allowing a league-best 0.57 goals per game, as the 2012 MVC Goalkeeper of the Year has posted a .864 saves percentage.
UE has been solid offensively as well, scoring 1.43 goals per game, but will be without two of its main offensive weapons. Sophomore Kayla Smith, who leads the team with 14 points, five goals and four assists, is out for the season after tearing her ACL Oct. 12 at Missouri State. The Purple Aces are also expected to be without second-leading scorer Lauren Tiernan, who has tallied eight points on three goals and two assists. As a result, sophomore Abby Springer (3 G, A) and senior Stephanie Thompson (3 G) will be called upon to shoulder more of the offensive load.
The Redbirds lead the all-time series against the Purple Aces, 10-7-3. UE won the most-recent meeting, beating ISU 4-1 last season, in what matched the largest Valley loss during Roff's tenure.
"They lost the other night, but they will be ready to bounce back strong like all good teams do," Roff said of the Purple Aces. "They are one of the teams in the league that does combine a stingy defense with some dangerous attacking players. As we saw last year, if you give them some time and space, they can hurt you."
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