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Illinois State's Women's soccer last season on Breast Cancer Awareness night after defeating Evansville in a 3-0 shutout. 

The Illinois State women’s soccer team not only looks to improve upon last season’s potential, but strives to make 2018 a season to remember.  

The last memory many have of the team is the back-and-forth matchup against Northern Iowa last season. Although the loss was tough to stomach, the Redbirds look for more games like that in the future.

The group went through a trying season, ripe with both change and curiosity. The loss of several seniors sent the ‘Birds into a state of unfamiliarity and adjustment as they searched for new strategies and leadership.

Marking an overall record of 9-9-2 and 3-4 in Missouri Valley Conference play, the Redbirds seem to have a strong foundation with an even stronger goal: winning an MVC championship.

While their tough schedule is met with confidence, Graduate assistant Lucy Berres, who worked with the team in 2017, talked about the growth this team has undergone, attributing its past hardships to inexperience.  

“Every team in every sport has a season of growing pains now and again, it’s inevitable. I think the 2017 season was that season for this team,” Berres said. “They lost a large group of seniors in 2016 and had a lot of roles to fill and did a lot of experimenting and trying to find their identity. Every single player on this team is capable of exponential growth and I think they will continue to grow throughout the summer and preseason so when the season comes knocking, they will be ready.” 

When asked about the team’s character and how it may have changed for the better this season, Berres not only showed belief in her squad, but also pride in knowing the opportunity they have to achieve this season.

“Knowing this team in the way that I do, I am confident in saying their identity is grit; straight up hard work,” Berres said. “People say the grind is real and there is no off-season, but no one knows that and experiences that better than this team. They will be a force to be reckoned with, not only in the Missouri Valley, but also in their non-conference schedule as well.”

Brad Silvey will coach the Redbirds alongside assistants Scott Myers, Sarah Thompkins, and volunteer assistant Coleman Childers. The new graduate assistant will be Angela Widlacki.

ISU will open its season playing host to CSU-Northridge August 16 and Eastern Michigan August 19 before hitting the road for a seven-game away stint.

In October, the ‘Birds are slated to play MVC opponents Valparaiso, Loyola-Chicago, Indiana State, Evansville, and the University of Northern Iowa. 

The regular season is set to conclude at home October 25 as the Redbirds look to conquer Northern Iowa in a rematch of last year’s final game. 

MATT KALINOWSKI is a Sports Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at mjkali1@ilstu.edu

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