Redbirds to Take On Sycamores for MVC Title, Sunday

Nov. 9, 2013

MVC final: No. 1 Illinois state vs, No. 2 indiana state
Date: Nov. 10
Time: 1 p.m. CT
Location: Evansville, Ind. (McCutchan Stadium)
Game Notes: Illinois State
Watch: FOX Sports Midwest
Listen: GoRedbirds.com (Casey Richards | Play-by-Play) - WZND 103.3 FM, AudioNow (213-493-0196)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter: @ISU_Soccer

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - The top-seeded Illinois State soccer team (13-6-0, 6-0-0 MVC) will vie for its third-straight Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title in the championship match against No. 2 seed Indiana State (10-8-0, 4-2-0 MVC), Sunday at 1 p.m., at McCutchan Stadium in Evansville, Ind.

The Redbirds advanced to the championship match with a 3-1 semifinal victory over fifth-seeded Evansville, Friday night. Illinois State trailed at halftime, 1-0, but scored three goals in the first 14 minutes of the second half to secure its fifth-straight tournament victory. Hannah Leinert scored twice for the Redbirds, while Rachel Tejada tallied once.

Sunday’s tilt will be a rematch of last year’s championship game, when the Redbirds defeated the Sycamores, 5-1, in Omaha, Neb. The Redbirds lead the all-time series against the Sycamores, 15-3-0, and have won seven-straight. This year’s regular-season match was toughly contested, as the Redbirds earned a 2-1 road victory, Oct. 4. Head coach Drew Roff believes the intensity of that game will be repeated on Sunday.

“Indiana State played us real tough,” Roff said of this season’s between the Redbirds and Sycamores. “Their place is a tough place to play, and it was a close game. I don’t think we played a great game that day, but they finished second in the league, and it’s the two top teams that are playing. We know we have our work cut out for us, and that it is going to be a heck of a battle. We need to put together two good halves if we are going to win this thing.”

The match will be televised on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Indiana, FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX College Sports, ESPN3 (outside of the Valley footprint), DirecTV (Channel 671), Dish Network (Channel 418) and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 748). The telecast will also be shown on tape-delay at 4:30 p.m., CT on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. It will also broadcast on the WJBC/Country Financial Illinois State Radio Network and on WZND 103.3 FM.

Scouting the Sycamores

Winners of six-straight matches, including Friday’s 4-0 semifinal victory over sixth-seeded Drake, the Sycamores enter Sunday’s title match as the hottest team in the MVC outside of the Redbirds. INS has not lost since its 2-1 defeat at the hands of Illinois State back on Oct. 4.

The Sycamores have combined an explosive offense (2.33 goals per game) with a stingy defense (0.33 goals-against
average) during the six-game winning streak.

The combination of freshman Abby Reed (22 points, 10 goals, two assists) and sophomore Kate Johnson (21 points, eight goals, five assists), both All-MVC First Team selections, has paced the Sycamores offensively. Sophomore Sydney Lovelace is tied with Johnson for the team-lead with five
assists in only 12 games.

All-MVC First Team selection Shelby Troyer anchors the back line, while Alexandra Rodas has also played in all 18 games. After rotating in and out of the lineup earlier this season, MVC All-Freshman Team choice Brittany San Roman has established herself as the Sycamores’ starting goalkeeper. San Roman did not play in the previous meeting between these two squads.

Quick Kicks

  • TEJADA CONTINUES TO SHINE: Three-time MVC Player of the Year Rachel Tejada leads the conference in most major offensive categories, and has climbed to the top of the Valley and Redbird record books in just her third season. Tejada leads the league in points (39), goals (15), assists (9) and shots (79). Her 136-career points on 54 goals and 28 assists are a Valley record, which she eclipsed with a goal at Missouri State, Oct. 31. She also became ISU’s all-time assists leader earlier this season, and is five goals shy of the all-time Valley and program record.
  • VALLEY SUCCESS: With Friday’s win at Evansville, seventh-year ISU head coach Drew Roff improved his record against MVC opponents to 41-8-8 (.789). Dating back to last season, the Redbirds have won 12-straight matches against Valley teams, with their last loss coming Oct. 10, 2012.
  • DOMINATING “D”: The Redbird defense has allowed just two goals during its last six games, including four-straight shutouts from Oct. 13-Oct. 27. Backs Gabbi McArtor, Rhianna Krutz and Abby Van Deventer have played all 90 minutes in those matches, while MVC Goalkeeper of the Year Aryn Newsom has been steady in goal, posting a league-best 0.33 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in those contests.
  • SPREADING THE WEALTH: Illinois State’s 45 goals and 2.37 goals per game average are both best in the MVC, due in large part to a diverse offensive attack. A Valley-best 12 players have recorded at least one point, including 10 with at least four, while nine players have scored goals. Rachel Tejada (15), Hannah Leinert (12), Dagny Olson (6) and Kyla Cross (5) have all found the back of the net at least five times and rank in the top-six of 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 nine assists, to go along with five goals.
  • BATTLE TESTED: 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. The Golden Eagles have not lost since falling to the Redbirds, and enter the week ranked third in the RPI.
  • DIAPER DANDY: Redbird freshman Hannah Leinert has significantly bolstered the ISU offense in her first season, as she ranks second in the conference with 30 points and 12 goals. She leads the league with 14 points and six goals in Valley action, and has recorded at least one point in the last seven games she has played in, scoring goals in five of them.

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