Redbirds to Play Final Regular-Season Home Match Sunday
Oct. 20, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State soccer team (9-4-2, 2-2-0 MVC) will conclude the home portion of its regular-season schedule when it welcomes the Missouri State Bears (8-6-2, 2-1-1 MVC) to Adelaide Street Field, Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. A win would greatly enhance the Redbirds' chances to either earn a bye into the semifinals or host a first round match in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament later this month.
The Redbirds are coming off of their best offensive performance in program history, scoring a record-setting nine goals in last Sunday's 9-2 victory over Indiana State. Kyla Cross became the first player in program-history to score four goals in one match on her way to MVC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Head coach Drew Roff hopes Sunday's goal-scoring outburst is a sign of things to come, similar to last season's 7-1 stretch to close the year, during which the Redbirds scored 31 goals.
"I truly think that we have the potential to get on a roll like we did last year," Roff said. "We would get a goal, feed off that, and pick our game up to a higher level, and start scoring goals in bunches. That is really hard to predict, and I would never want to assume we can explode like that, but we certainly have the potential to put teams under pressure. If we come out like we did last game, I think we will be tough to stop."
The Bears come into the match unbeaten in their last four matches. Most recently, the Bears shutout Creighton, 1-0, Oct. 14, to pick up their second conference win of the season. Senior goalkeeper Chelsea Voet stopped five shots to earn her seventh clean sheet of the year, while Rachel Weimer scored the game's lone goal, her team-leading sixth of the season.
Voet has led a stout Missouri State defense, which has the second-best goals against average in the conference at 1.12. Voet's seven shutouts lead the league, while seniors Grace Cross and Nia Williams anchor the back line for the Bears. Offensively, the Bears are led by Weimer's six goals and 14 points. Senior Michelle Sommer has chipped in four goals, while freshman Molly Brewer leads the team with five assists and also has three goals.
The Redbirds have played the Bears more than any other team in program history. Both programs started in 1996 and have met 26 times, with the Redbirds going 12-6-8 in those matches. The Bears knocked off ISU, 1-0, during the regular season last year Sept. 30, before the Redbirds knocked off MSU, 5-0, in the MVC title match. Illinois State has not defeated Missouri State in the regular season since 2008.
"Missouri State is always a tough game for us," Roff said. "They are always very organized defensively, and they don't give you anything easy. You have to earn everything. We're looking up at them in the table right now, so obviously it's a huge game for us."
The Redbirds are currently fifth in the conference standings. The top-two teams earn an automatic bye into the semifinals of the MVC Tournament played in Omaha, Neb., while teams seeded three-through-six must play in first round games hosted by the higher seed. In Roff's previous five seasons at Illinois State, the Redbirds have only had to play a first round game once, defeating Indiana State in double overtime, 2-1, Oct. 31, 2010.
For Illinois State, sophomore Rachel Tejada enters the week tied for 7th nationally with 14 goals. She is also top-10 nationally in goals per game (7th with 0.933), points (6th with 34) and points per game (4th with 2.27). Tejada also leads the MVC in all of those categories.
The match also marks "Reggie's Kids Club Day," as all members of the group are invited to attend the "Scare the Bears" fall themed event at noon before the match. There will be a candy jar guessing game, pumpkin bowling, mini pumpkin decorating and $1 hot chocolates for sale. In addition, the Funbelievable premier balloon artists of Central Illinois will be stopping by ready to meet any requests. The first 200 kids in attendance will also receive free pizza, a cookie and a mini pumpkin for decorating courtesy of Radar Family Farms.
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