ISU Soccer: Missouri Valley champs

Archive photoFreshman Hannah Leinert had a hat trick in Sunday's championship

For the third straight year, the Redbirds are the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament champions. Sealing their fifth all-time title and fourth in the past five years, the ’Birds have seized two of the three goals they set from the beginning of the season, after winning the MVC outright and winning the MVC Tournament. The ISU soccer team has now punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

“We look at every season as a separate year, but we obviously had several players who were comfortable in today’s setting, and that was very important,” head coach Drew Roff said. “For us to play as well as we did, that leadership really came through. I’m really proud and happy for them, but every year is a different year. For this team to go 8-0 against the league, that is a pretty special accomplishment and something to be very proud of.”

The No. 1 Redbirds (14-6-0) defeated No. 5 seeded Evansville (9-6-4) in the semi-final round last Friday, before taking on No. 2 Indiana State to take home the title on Sunday.

ISU 3, Evansville 1

Illinois State soccer had not trailed an opponent a single time in its last seven outings leading into Friday night’s match up at McCutchan Stadium in Evansville. However, the Purple Aces’ own ace, Abby Springer, grabbed her fourth goal on the season in the 12th minute to give her team the halftime advantage.

“I just said, ‘Hey, we’re too good and we’ve worked too hard to play that way. Let’s turn it up a notch, and no matter if we win or lose, at least we can say we played a game that represented Illinois State soccer,’” Roff said at halftime.

Following Roff’s pep talk, the ’Birds quickly rallied back. Three minutes into the half, Dagny Olson took a ball deep to the right corner before sending a cross to the post, finding Tejada. The junior forward headed the ball in for her league-leading 15th goal of the season to even the match.

Freshman Hannah Leinert then stepped up on a three-way play. Kyla Cross sent a corner kick to Rhianna Krutz from the left side, finding Leinert who also headed it into the back of the net in the game’s penultimate goal. Leinert then scored again to finish off the Purple Aces in the 59th minute.

“[Leinert and Tejada] have the technique and physical attributes,” Roff said. “When they are sharp, they are a handful. In the first half, we couldn’t find any rhythm. We were just giving the ball away and couldn’t find that good clean first touch a lot of times. I think they got on the same page and got locked in.”

ISU 5, Indiana State 0

Leinert started off the the sweep for the ’Birds Sunday afternoon in the 26th minute with the assist from Tejada. She struck again in the 50th minute, again on a pass from Tejada, and then again four minutes later when Anna Stinson found her. Leinert was the first player in the history of the MVC Tournament to tally a hat trick in the championship match. She was honored as the tournament’s MVP.

“She’s dynamite,” Roff said. “She’s strong, she’s fast, and she’s fearless. She also doesn’t stop, she just keeps going.”

Ali Farkos scored her second goal of the season in the 66th minute, sneaking in a shot from 24 yards out on Tejada’s third assist of the game. Three is a career high for the junior forward, and it also gives her the program high of 12 on the season. Cross tallied her sixth goal on the season to put the Redbirds up to their final score of 5-0.

Including their 6-0 Valley record in the regular season, the two wins make the ISU soccer team the first in league history to go 8-0 against Valley opponents. Its 14 wins on the season is also a record, as is its nine-game winning streak which closed out the season.

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