|ISU clinches No. 2 seed with win|
|Written by Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 25 October 2012 20:46|
With Thursday night being the end of Missouri Valley Conference regular season play, a lot was up in the air.
As the ISU soccer team took on Drake in Des Moines, Iowa, the Redbirds needed a win to avoid a play-in game for a spot in the Valley tourney. The Bulldogs were favored and with the win would get the No.1 seed in the tournament, an automatic bye to the semifinals and win the MVC regular season title outright.
But the Redbirds did not go down without a fight. In fact, they did not go down at all as they defeated DU 2-1 to take the No. 2 seed in the tournament and an automatic bye to the semi-finals to try and defend the tournament title, while the Bulldogs will compete on Sunday for a chance to make the tournament.
“It wasn’t a ‘lose and go home’ type of game, but we put a lot of emphasis on this one because after this game we could have potentially been anywhere from second to fifth,” ISU head coach Drew Roff said. “Now, we can rest up, get healthy, get focused and know we’re in the final four and that’s exactly what happened with the win tonight.”
The Redbirds wasted no time with sophomore Rachel Tejada tallying her 15th goal of the season to give the Redbirds a 1-0 advantage after just over five minutes of play. Junior Kyla Cross made the pass to Tejada who headed it into the goal.
From there, ISU goalkeeper Aryn Newsom recorded three saves, but with 10 minutes left in the half, the Bulldogs broke through with a goal to tie the game 1-1.
“The first few minutes of the second half, Drake had a strong wind behind them and they were putting us under some pressure … but our girls dug their heels in and tried to slowly get the game back going our way,” Roff said.
Although the wind was going against ISU for the second half, a goal by junior Anna Stinson with an assist from Tejada changed the ’Birds’ momentum as they retook the lead with the score 2-1.
“Once we got the goal, it seemed to give us strength and our girls battled extremely hard against the wind in the second half to preserve the victory,” Roff said. “It was one of the grittiest performances of a Redbird soccer team that I’ve been a part of.”
Newsom recorded two saves in the final three minutes to preserve the Redbirds’ victory and second-place finish in Valley. Newsom recorded eight saves overall.
“[She] made all the saves that I expected her to make but also, she made a couple big time saves that really were huge factors in the outcome of the game,” Roff said. “It was really the best game that I’ve seen her play.”
With ISU defeating DU, Evansville wins the MVC regular season title outright after being picked in the preseason coaches’ poll to finish seventh.
ISU (11-4-2) will find out on Sunday who they will face in the semifinals depending on who wins the play-in game.
“We’re in the tournament, that’s the important thing. Obviously every team that plays each other in the tournament has seen each other already, so there’s a lot of familiarity there and it’s hard to beat a good team two times during the season,” Roff said. “We need to make sure that we prepare as well … we’re excited about the position that we’re in and we’re playing good soccer right now and that’s all you can ask for this time of year.”
The Redbirds will play at 6 p.m. on Nov. 2 in Omaha, Neb., the site of the MVC Tournament.