Regular Season Concludes Thursday Night at Missouri State

Oct. 30, 2013

Week 11: Illinois state at missouri state
Date: Oct. 30
Time: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Springfield, Mo. (Plaster Stadium)
Game Notes: Illinois State
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 (11-6-0, 5-0-0 MVC) will conclude its regular season with a match at Missouri State (5-9-3, 2-1-2 MVC), Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Redbirds increased their winning streak to six with a 3-0 triumph over Drake, Sunday, while also clinching the outright MVC regular-season title and MVC Tournament's top seed. A victory over Missouri State would give ISU the first perfect MVC mark since Drake achieved the feat in 2004, and second in program-history. Additionally, a fifth-straight shutout would equal the record for fewest goals allowed in MVC play, with one.

Aside from the potential history, head coach Drew Roff wants his team still at its peak in order to maintain good form moving in to next week's MVC Tournament.

"The result is not going to have a ton of implications in the standings, but we want to play well," Roff said. "Nobody wants to go into the biggest weekend of the year limping along. Everybody wants to go in ready and confident. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope that we can maintain our consistency and focus. If we do that, we should play well."

Scouting the Bears

The Bears enter Thursday's match with the chance to earn a bye in the MVC Tournament with a victory and an Indiana State loss or draw. The Sycamores own the tiebreaker over MSU, thanks to a 2-1 win, Friday, which was the Bears' last match.

MSU rebounded from an 0-5 start to get back in within two games of .500 on Oct. 5, but has gone winless in their last four matches (0-2-2) to fall back to 5-9-3 overall and 2-1-2 in the MVC.

Rachel Weimer, a preseason All-MVC selection and MSU's leading scorer last season, has not tallied a point and played in only 13 games, leaving the scoring load to other players. Senior Shelby Stewart leads the team with 10 points and four goals, while Kentucky transfer Molly Huber has nine points and a team-best five assists and 34 shots.

Missouri State has traditionally been stingy defensively, with 2013 being no exception. The Bears' 1.11 goals-against average is second in the Valley, while their five shutouts are third-most. Sophomore center back Alix Opfer leads the team with 1,621 minutes played, while Cassie Le has also started all 17 games along the back line. Keeper Jessica Perry, a sophomore transfer from Samford, is second in the MVC with a 1.09 goals-against average.

The Redbirds lead the all-time series with the Bears, 13-6-8, with the 27 all-time meetings making MSU ISU's most frequent opponent. ISU has won two-straight over the Bears, including last year's 1-0 victory, bur hasn't won at Plaster Field since 2003, or scored a goal there since 2005.

"They are a hard team to break down, with the way they play," Roff said. "They have good athletes and are a hard-working team. Their field is a little smaller than ours, and it's turf, so a lot of times the final pass or those through balls we like to play might run out of bounds or run to the goalkeeper. We're going to have to be really sharp."

Quick Kicks

  • TEJADA CONTINUES TO SHINE: Most recently being named MVC Offensive POTW for the fourth time this season, two-time MVC Player of Year Rachel Tejada finds herself atop the league's leaderboards again. She leads the league in points (34), goals (13) and assists (8), and is ranked 15th, 17th and 33rd nationally in those categories. She is ISU's all-time assists (27) and points (131) leader, and is two points shy of eclipsing the all-time MVC points mark.
  • VALLEY SUCCESS: With Sunday's win over Drake, seventh-year Illinois State head coach Drew Roff improved his record against MVC opponents to 31-7-3 (.793). Dating back to last season, the Redbirds have won 10-straight matches against Valley teams, with their last loss coming Oct. 10, 2012.
  • DOMINATING "D": The Redbird defense has posted four-straight shutouts, and clean sheets in five of its last six games overall. Backs Gabbi McArtor, Rhianna Krutz and Abby Van Deventer have played all 90 minutes in the last four shutouts, while goalkeeper Aryn Newsom has been steady in goal. ISU has allowed just one goal in MVC play, tops in the conference. Another shutout Thursday would equal the Valley record for least goals allowed in MVC play.
  • SPREADING THE WEALTH: Illinois State's 39 goals and 2.29 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 12 have recorded at least one point, which is tied 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 is tied for the MVC-lead with a career-high eight assists, to go along with four goals.
  • BATTLE TESTED: With the regular-season concluding Thursday, the Redbirds are hoping a tough non-conference schedule will pay dividends in the postseason. ISU went 2-3 against teams that made the 2012 NCAA Tournament, notching wins over Miami (Ohio) and No. 22 Marquette, and 2-5 against "power conference" teams, adding a win against TCU to the triumph over MU.
  • SOMETHING IN THE FALL AIR: The Redbirds are currently a perfect 5-0 in the month of October. This continues the trend of head coach Drew Roff's teams peaking towards the end of the season, as his seven Redbird squads have combined to go 35-6-3 (.830) in October.

GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.