The Illinois State women’s soccer team was ecstatic in its return to Adelaide Street Field Sunday, as the Redbirds scored just four minutes into the match, leading to a 2-0 win over the Omaha Mavericks.
“Our girls were really excited to be back home today and I think our first half performance definitely showed that,” ISU head coach Brad Silvey said. “We came out, we were energized, got two goals and they were well-earned. We probably should’ve had a few more in the first half with the number of opportunities and shots taken, but nonetheless, happy to be home.”
ISU added an extra cushion heading into halftime, when Megan McEachern netted her first career goal at 45 minutes.
“It was off a corner kick and then I was just staying at the top of the box, just waiting for any rebound, and it kind of just went right to my foot, so I was focusing on getting it on goal,” McEachern said.
A junior from Batavia, McEachern had taken on a new role as a centerback this season.
“She’s a player that has gotten better very consistently throughout the season, and for her to notch one in today, that was the icing on the cake,” Silvey said.
Goalkeeper Haley Smith, the reigning MVC Defensive Player of the Week, recored five saves, while Omaha took 12 shots.
ISU’s defense has allowed just seven goals in its past seven games, despite winning three of those games.
“I attribute a lot of our most recent results to our defense. Our backline and our goalkeeping has been outstanding, but it’s been a complete team buy-in to how we have been defending over the last little while,” Silvey said. “Just doing a better job of being gritty and competing for anything and everything in our defensive end, and doing a better job of meeting the ball with pressure.”
The Redbirds were pleased to come back home after a seven game road trip, as they will host two more games this week.
“The nice thing about having a heavy road schedule at the beginning of the season is that we have a steady amount of home games coming up,” Silvey said. “The road was tough to us, but I thought we learned a lot of lessons in our ability to be able to translate all of the hard lessons that we’ve learned up to this point in time, and to now get some results, yes we hope to create some tangible energy within our team, and to build some momentum as we prepare for conference and Missouri State on Saturday.”
After only grabbing one victory in its road trip so far, the Illinois State women’s soccer team concluded its seven-game road trip with a win at Toledo.
The Redbirds defeated the Rockets 2-1 on Friday, as Mikayla Unger and Alix McArthur scored both goals off the bench.
ISU head coach Brad Silvey spoke about the early challenge the Rockets presented.
“Great way to wrap up our seven-game road stretch with a solid result. This was a tough Toledo team that presented a lot of problems and disrupted the way we wanted to play,” Silvey said.
Both teams had early chances, but nobody scored until the 29th minute when redshirt senior Hannah Scafaria netted a shot to make it 1-0 Rockets.
At 34 minutes, the junior Unger scored her second goal of the season to tie the game 1-1.
Unger would continue to contribute, as she assisted on the game winning goal that Alix McArthur scored in the 42nd minute.
Unger and McArthur subbed in from the bench halfway through the first half.
“Our team, especially our bench, showed a lot of grit and determination to find a way to win,” Silvey said. “As we return home and prepare for Omaha, we need to show more focus in executing our team tactics.”
Haley Smith had three saves Friday, and was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week prior to this game.
Silvey hopes the team executes their strategy on Sunday.
“Meeting the ball with pressure, consistently competing for loose balls, igniting our offense increasing possession and taking more shots”, the coach said, “will all be necessary in earning future results.”
ISU finished its road trip 2-4-1 and will host Western Illinois at 6 p.m. Wednesday, then Missouri State at 2 p.m. Saturday at Adelaide Street Field.