Redbirds Host No. 10 Milwaukee for Pink Game
Oct. 20, 2011
NORMAL, Ill. - For the first time in program history, the Illinois State soccer team (9-5-0) will host an opponent ranked in the national top team, when the Redbirds welcome No. 10 Milwaukee (14-1-0) to Adelaide Street Field for a 1 p.m. contest Sunday afternoon.
"When we scheduled this game, we knew that Milwaukee was a quality opponent and knew the Pink Game would be big event for our team," head coach Drew Roff said. "With the kind of season that Milwaukee is having and the success that we are having; it will be a great non-conference game. It is going to be a big day, and the Pink Game will certainly add to it."
Sunday's match will feature two of the best goal scorers in the country in ISU's Rachel Tejada and Milwaukee's Sarah Hagen. Tejada ranks fourth nationally in goals (16), goals per game (1.143) and points per game (2.64), while Hagen leads the nation in goals per game (1.286), points per game (2.93) and game-winning goals (9). In addition, the Redbirds and Panthers are also two of the highest-scoring teams in the country, as UWM ranks 18th (2.47) and ISU 22nd (2.43) in goals per game.
"It is definitely exciting to have two of the best goal scorers in the country on the same field at the same time," Roff said. "It is a special quality to put the ball in the net and both [Hagen and Tejada] certainly possess it. Every scouting report says that you have to slow down and stop those two players, yet they continue to score goals. It speaks a lot about the ability of those two individuals."
The Redbirds have won three-straight matches, including six of their last eight, and are coming off a convincing, 4-1, victory at Indiana State. Sophomore Anna Stinson earned Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for her two-goal performance against the Sycamores and Tejada was named the MVC Newcomer of the Week after tallying three points on a goal and an assist. The freshman forward netted the eventual game-winner from 25 yards out just two seconds before the halftime whistle. Senior Jessica Carlson notched the other goal for Illinois State in the victory and raised her season point total to 15.
Milwaukee will be looking to extend its eight-game winning streak when it travels to Loyola (Ill.) Thursday night for a Horizon League matchup, before making its way to Normal on Sunday. The Panthers lone loss this season was a 1-0, double-overtime defeat to No. 5 Marquette, marking the only time that Milwaukee has been kept off the scoreboard this season. Since the loss, UWM is outscoring opponents, 24-4, and will have a chance to clinch its 12th-straight Horizon League title against Loyola.
Hagen leads Milwaukee's prolific offensive attack with 41 points on 18 goals and five assists. The U.S. U23 National Team member is a three-time All-American and holds Horizon League records for career goals and points. Keara Thompson is among the nation's leaders with 11 assists and Laurel Ragalie has eclipsed the 10-point plateau with five goals and an assist for 11 points. Goalkeeper Jamie Forbes leads the Panthers' defensive unit that has allowed just nine goals in 15 games this season. Forbes boasts a paltry 0.56 goals against average, a .871 save percentage and has collected 54 saves in over 1285 minutes between the posts.
"Milwaukee is very strong in all parts of the field and they do not really have any weaknesses," Roff said. "The two seniors [Hagen and Thompson] lead the team, but the supporting cast is very strong and capable. They have built a program over many years and they have always been very competitive. They have a very special player in Hagen, and she has really helped take them to another level."
Illinois State players will be sporting pink uniforms in honor of cancer awareness and admission to the game will be just $1. Hot dogs and pink lemonade will also be available for $1, and the Community Cancer Center will be at the match to provide information and help raise awareness about cancer.
ISU's online store will also be selling official Illinois State Athletics pink t-shirts in honor of the event.
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