ISU Soccer Opens Regular Season at No. 17 Illinois
Aug. 20, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - For the first time since 2005, the Illinois State women's soccer team will play No. 17 Illinois, when the Redbirds begin their 2009 regular-season schedule Friday Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
After winning back-to-back regular-season Missouri Valley Conference championships, the Redbirds are picked to finish in first place according to the 2009 MVC Preseason Poll, after finishing the 2008 season 11-8-1 overall.
The Illini are currently ranked No. 17 in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's (NSCAA) Preseason Poll, after losing in the third round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament to the eventual tournament champions, North Carolina. Illinois finished the 2008 season 12-9-2 overall and it is picked to finish third in the 2009 Big Ten Conference Preseason Poll.
"We are looking forward to the challenge of opening our season at Illinois on Friday," said head coach Drew Roff. "They are currently ranked No. 17 in the country. It will obviously be a great test for us, but our players are looking forward to getting the regular season underway and finding out where we stand. It has been a while since the two teams have played each other. It promises to be an exciting night for soccer in central Illinois."
The last time the two teams played each other was on Sept. 16, 2005, when Illinois State fell to Illinois, 3-0. Illinois leads the all-time series record, 5-2-1, over ISU.
Friday's game also marks the first time ISU has opened the season on the road since 2006. The last time the Redbirds opened the season on the road was at Green Bay, where they lost 1-0. ISU has a 9-4-0 all-time record in road openers and a 7-4-2 all-time record in season openers. The Redbirds went 1-0-1 in exhibition play this summer. Sophomore Jessica Carlson led the team in points during the preseason with seven on three goals and one assist. Carlson scored all three of her preseason goals against IUPUI, leading the Redbirds to a 4-1 victory. In their first preseason game, the Redbirds tied UW-Milwaukee, 1-1, after Danielle Mutters scored the Redbirds' lone goal. Freshman Kelly Rosenthal led the Redbird newcomers with three points on one goal and one assist.
"I think the two exhibition games were very valuable to our team, especially for our younger players," said Roff. "They have now been exposed to the speed of the college game against another opponent. We also were able to play two quality teams that exposed a couple of weak areas early on, and we have worked hard in training to fix them. Scoring five goals in these two games is something that I was very pleased with. Our exhibitions showed that we can be a very good team down the road, but they also showed we have a long way to go."
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