Regular Season Concludes Thursday Night at Missouri State
Oct. 30, 2013
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."
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