ISU Soccer Hosts Drake for MVC Opener
Jessica Carlson

Jessica Carlson

Sept. 22, 2011

Date/Time vs. Drake (Sunday, Sep. 25 at 1 p.m. CST)
Normal, Ill. (Adelaide Street Field)
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Weekly Coach's Show Featuring an interview with redshirt freshman Aryn Newsom

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State soccer team (5-4-0) will begin its quest for an eighth Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title when the Redbirds host Drake (2-3-4) Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Adelaide Street Field.

"I think we got a lot out of our non-conference schedule and got accomplished what we wanted to accomplish," head coach Drew Roff said. "We got some great results and we are definitely prepared for conference play."

ISU split a pair of games last weekend at Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, shutting out the Eagles, 3-0, before dropping a 1-0 decision to the Broncos. Freshman Rachel Tejada scored all three goals for Illinois State in Friday's victory, bringing her season totals to 12 goals and 28 points and ranking her second nationally in both categories. Senior Jessica Carlson tied a school record with three assists in the win over EMU and now has six assists on the season, which ranks ninth in nation. Redshirt freshman Aryn Newsom allowed just one goal and made 12 saves in both games to earn MVC Defensive Player of the Week accolades, including a career-high nine saves at Eastern Michigan for her first-career shutout.

"We didn't have our best performances as a team last weekend, but we got a result that we wanted and it makes you wonder just how good this team can be if they can put together a full 90 minutes," Roff said. "It was a disappointing loss to Western Michigan, but I give them a lot of credit. They have a good team and they played the way they needed to and got the win. I think that result could be a wakeup call for us and it showed us what can happen if we do not play our best game."

Drake will play its final non-conference match on Thursday at North Dakota State and will be looking to snap a six-game winless streak before making the trip to Normal for Sunday's matinee. The Bulldogs were tabbed fifth in the MVC Preseason Coaches' Poll after going 10-6-3 last season and finishing fourth in the final 2010 MVC standings. Offensively, DU is led by Laura Moklestad, who has tallied five points on two goals and an assist. Tara Zika is tied for the team lead with a pair of goals and four other Bulldogs have found the back of the net once. Kalena Litch, an All-MVC Second Team selection last season, leads a Drake defense that is allowing just 1.11 goals per game. Litch has played every minute in goal for the Bulldogs, pulling in 66 saves and posting a 0.99 goals against average.

"Drake is a great team and we cannot get off to a slow start on Sunday," Roff said. "We are looking at this game as the most important game of the season, because we know how much each and every conference game means. Drake is very organized and they are very good defensively and we have to be able to solve that and create chances."

Illinois State and Drake will meet for the 14th time in series history Sunday, with ISU holding a 6-5-2 advantage. The Redbirds have won the last six meetings and earned a 2-0 win last year in Des Moines, Iowa. The Bulldogs' last victory over Illinois State was a 2-1 decision in the 2004 State Farm MVC Tournament.

Sunday will be Girl Scout Day at Adelaide Street Field and any girl scout will receive free admission if they are wearing their uniform. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.