The ISU soccer team climbed back above .500 while head coach Drew Roff recorded his 100th career victory Friday evening at Adelaide Street Field. The Redbirds hosted IPFW in its final non-conference match of the season, shutting out the Mastodons in a 4-0 victory. A bolstered offensive showing from the ’Birds led the team through to victory, with four players each recording goals.
“You definitely don’t get to 100 wins without some very talented players, so they deserve all the credit. Today it was nice to get that win under our belt before conference play,” Roff said. “The second half we really came out and turned it up a notch. The intensity level was very high and we played quick like I thought we could. Once we started playing quicker … we really were able to put the game away.”
The Redbirds doubly outscored themselves on Friday when compared with their previous two games, recording just two goals in the losses to Saint Louis and Milwaukee on Sept. 20 and 22. Four Redbirds — Rachel Tejada, Anna Stinson, Dagny Olson, and Keri Kujawa — each recorded goals in the game to seal the shutout victory. ISU got the scoring started early in the match, with their first goal coming in the game’s third minute to set the pace early. Roff said this will help prepare his team as they head into conference play this week.
“To have confidence in your ability to score goals, you have to score them,” Roff said. “It’s one of those things that you build off of, and we know that we have a lot of talented players that can score goals, so it’s just a matter of time. But I like how everybody was involved today — it wasn’t just one or two players. Gabbi McArtor … served a lot of great crosses that were dangerous. Anna Stinson was tremendous in the middle of the park, playing simple, playing quick. All of our midfielders were moving, and it was fun to watch.”
“Obviously [Rachel] Tejada was more aggressive in the second half. And she’s always a difficult player to stop. [There are] a lot of weapons on this team and the more that they can work together and develop that chemistry, the better off we’ll be in The Valley,” Roff added.
Illinois State took an early lead in Friday’s match, with Tejada scoring her Missouri Valley-best ninth goal of the season. Gabbi McArtor played a cross from the left side into a wide open box, where Tejada headed it in to give the Redbirds a 1-0 advantage. Tejada’s early score was the first time that the Redbirds have struck first over the last four matches. Keeper Aryn Newsom then held off IPFW with a point-blank save at the end of the period to hold play even, but ISU had the advantage before halftime.
Stinson then took the game’s second goal in the 51st minute. She earned a penalty kick by being taken down in the penalty area from the right side. Stinson’s first career PK shot sailed past the keeper and met the back of the net to double Illinois State’s lead.
Olson then padded the lead just over two minutes later, when Kyla Cross played a ball to Tejada in the penalty area, who managed a back-heel pass to Olson. The freshman midfielder tapped it into the empty net for her fourth goal of the season and her career; Cross’s assist makes six to tie her career single-season high.
Redshirt sophomore Keri Kujawa then recorded the first goal of her career near the end of play to seal the big win for Illinois State. Rhianna Krutz played a ball into the box, which Hannah Leinert headed over to Kujawa in the penalty area. Kujawa headed the ball to the ground, which managed its way inside the right post to finalize the ISU lead at 4-0. Krutz picked up her second assist and Leinert got her fourth on the play.
“It was just a good team effort. It was a great cross from [Krutz] and everyone was working hard towards the end. [We were] just happy to put away the game,” Kujawa said. “I think this was the game we needed to help carry us into conference play. Normally in conference we score a lot of goals … so I think this was the right push we needed.”
The win was a century milestone for Roff, marking his 100th win in just his ninth season as head coach, seven of which were at Illinois State. Roff has lead the Redbirds to four regular-season MVC titles, three MVC Tournament titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances in those seven years at the helm. His career record now stands at 100-57-11, with a .628 winning percentage.
“To get to this point, we’ve had a lot of great players here at ISU, and I’ve worked with a lot of great assistant coaches who have helped us achieve some things,” Roff said.