NCAA Tournament Run Continues at Third-Seeded Michigan, Friday

Nov. 21, 2013

NCAA Tournament: Illinois state at No. 3 Michigan
Date: Nov. 22
Time: 6 p.m. CST
Location: Ann Arbor, Mich. (U-M Soccer Stadium)
Game Notes: Illinois State
Listen: (Casey Richards | Play-by-Play) - WZND 103.3 FM, AudioNow (213-493-0196)
Live Stats: GameTracker
Twitter: @ISU_Soccer

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.

Quick Kicks

  • THE DYNAMIC DUO: MVC Freshman of the Year Hannah Leinert (16) and three-time MVC Player of the Year Rachel Tejada (15) rank first and second in the MVC and 16th and 21st nationally in goals scored. ISU is one of just four teams nationally to have two 15-plus goal scorers (Memphis, Alabama State, Ole Miss).
  • DOMINATING "D": The ISU defense has allowed just four goals during its 10-game unbeaten streak, which includes six shutouts. Backs Gabbi McArtor and Abby Van Deventer have played every minute in all of those matches, while Rhianna Krutz has gone the distance in eight-straight games. MVC Goalkeeper of the Year Aryn Newsom has excelled during the streak as well, posting a 0.39 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
  • SPREADING THE WEALTH: Illinois State's 2.43 goals per game ranks 11th nationally, due in large part to a diverse offensive attack. Ten Redbirds have tallied at least four points, while nine players have scored goals. Hannah Leinert (16), Rachel Tejada (15), Dagny Olson (6) and Kyla Cross (6) have all found the back of the net at least six times and rank in the top-five of the MVC.
  • LENDING A HELPING HAND: ISU ranks fourth in the nation with 2.52 assists per game. Rachel Tejada has set a single-season program-record with 12 assists, ranking ninth nationally, while Kyla Cross' nine are 38th. Six Redbirds have recorded five or more assists.
  • VALLEY SUCCESS: With the MVC Tournament title game victory against Indiana State, Nov. 10, seventh-year ISU head coach Drew Roff improved his record against MVC opponents to 42-8-8 (.793). Dating back to last season, the Redbirds have won 13-straight matches against Valley teams.
  • JUST THREE YEARS IN: ISU junior forward Rachel Tejada has made her mark on the national, MVC and program record books in just her third season. She is the active career leader nationally for points per game (2.32) and is second in goals per game (0.90). Her 139-career points (54 G, 31 A) are the most in MVC history. She also holds the program's all-time assists mark, and is five shy of the MVC and program goals record.
  • DIAPER DANDY: Freshman Hannah Leinert leads the MVC with 16 goals, which also ranks 16th nationally and fourth among freshman. Leinert has tallied at least one point in nine-straight games, including goals in four-straight and seven of the last eight.

NCAA Tournament Notes

  • The 2013 Redbirds became the first team in MVC- and program-history to advance out of the first round after moving by Louisville in PKs
  • Hannah Leinert's goal against Louisville was ISU's first in a NCAA Tournament game since Nov. 14, 2003, when Diana Puckett scored in the 34' against KU
  • ISU is 0-4-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, having been outscored 12-2
  • MVC teams have combined to go 0-15-1 in the NCAA Tournament, being outscored 44-13
  • Friday's match will be the fifth of six NCAA Tournament games for Illinois State against a team ranked in the top-25
  • The combined record of ISU's previous five tournament opponents leading into the match is 72-23-6 Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.