NCAA Tournament Run Continues at Third-Seeded Michigan, Friday
Nov. 21, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State soccer team (14-6-1) will continue play in the NCAA Tournament with a second-round match at No. 3 seed and 11th-ranked Michigan (16-3-1), Friday at 6 p.m., CST in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Redbirds are making their first-ever appearance in the second round after battling Louisville to a 1-1 draw before moving past the Cardinals in penalty kicks, 4-3, Saturday. Hannah Leinert scored the Redbirds' lone goal, while Dagny Olson buried the game-winning penalty kick to make ISU the first Missouri Valley Conference team ever to advance past the first round.
For the last few years, one of the Redbirds' main goals had been to secure that elusive advancement. Now that the goal has been achieved, head coach Drew Roff has his squad focused on keeping the run going and continuing to make history.
"Now that we have gotten a little taste of it, we realize that we can play with anybody," Roff said. "We know that we have to play very well and step up with probably our best game of the year. At the same time, we feel like we belong in the final 32, and it will be a great challenge to see if we can take it one step further. We're having too much fun right now to stop. This team thinks they can win Friday, and I think it is going to be an awesome experience."
Scouting the Wolverines
The Wolverines enter Friday night's match winners of nine of their last 10 games, including Saturday's first-round victory over Milwaukee, 4-0.
Scoring two goals in that match was senior Nkem Ezurike, who leads the Wolverines with 35 points, 13 goals and nine assists. Ezurike is the program's all-time leading goal-scorer, tallying 48 over the course of her career, and is a four-time All-Big Ten selection. Providing additional firepower has been freshman Madisson Lewis (19 PTS, 5 G, 9 A), senior Meghan Toohey (11 PTS, 4 G, 3 A) and sophomore Christina Ordonez (8 PTS, 4 G).
Roff highlighted Michigan's defense, however, as its main strength, as the Wolverines' 0.49 goals-against average ranks seventh nationally. The back line is anchored by senior Shelina Zadorsky, who has been an All-Big Ten First Team selection the last two seasons. Zadorsky has also chipped in offensively, tallying eight assists on the year. Freshman Taylor Bucklin has tallied 10 shutouts in goal, while posting a .883 saves percentage.
"Michigan is very disciplined and organized," Roff said. "They are not going to let you catch them in transition and get in on a breakaway. They are athletic and physical, so if they do make a mistake, a lot of times their athleticism will allow them to recover. A challenge we face when we play the top teams in the country is that they are not going to give you anything easy, and are very well coached."
Michigan is led by sixth-year head coach Greg Ryan. Ryan has coached at Wisconsin, SMU and Colorado College collegiately, and also led the United States Women's National Team from 2005-07.Illinois State and Michigan have never met in women's soccer. The Redbirds are 8-23-2 against teams from the Big Ten all-time, including losses this season to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois by a combined score of 13-2.
NCAA Tournament Notes
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