Three games in five days is enough to drain any team, both physically and mentally. That didn’t stop the ISU soccer team from clinching it’s third straight win Tuesday afternoon against Saint Louis University (SLU). The Redbirds (5-4-0) battled the Billikens (1-6-1) in their first meeting since 2005 to pull out a 4-1 victory. Despite SLU striking first in the match, ISU regained its composure and took control of the match.

“Unfortunately I think it took their goal to get us locked in, but once they scored it woke us up and raised our game a little bit,” head coach Drew Roff said. “We got settled down once we evened up. We were — physically and emotionally — a little bit tired today. Not just our legs when it comes to covering ground … but the ball was bouncing off us a bit.

“But I give everybody credit there. We scored some goals and I thought our bench did a tremendous job going in to replace some tired players. That was huge,” Roff said. “For us to go in and get four goals on a day we weren’t our sharpest, I tip my hat to them. I think everybody is looking forward to the day off tomorrow.”

ISU’s victory over SLU broke the tied series history, which now stands at 2-1-1. Saint Louis took the last meeting in overtime, 2-1. It also marks Roff’s 99th career victory at Illinois State. After seven years as head coach of this Redbirds soccer team, Roff (98-55-11) has led ISU to four regular-season MVC titles, three MVC Tournament titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances. The team moves forward on its goal to win the program’s first NCAA Tournament game this season, coming off an emotional win over No. 22 Marquette on Sunday.

The Billikens struck first in Tuesday’s match-up in the 15th minute when a loose ball bounced around in the box and found SLU’s Jessie Jarrett, who snuck a shot in unassisted. The early advantage for SLU held for about nine more minutes until a corner kick in the game’s 24th minute. A player tripped inside the box and set up Rachel Tejada for a PK, who found the back of the net to even the score at 1-1.

Tejada kept the pace from there, assisting freshman Dagny Olson for her second career goal. Tejada approached from the right side and found Olson. The play was briefly deflected by the keeper, but Olson was there to shoot into the empty net, putting the Redbirds up 2-1. Olson then scored again just over five minutes later when Gabbi McArtor made a long run from midfield along the left side, and found Olson who headed it in to lift the ’Birds up 3-1.

“Gabbi has done a tremendous job getting around the edges and her service has really improved this year. She’s putting balls back post and we’ve been getting chances off of that,” Roff said. “We love our field here. It’s a big field, it’s a wide field — we like to stretch teams out and find some seams. We’ve been able to do that.”

The fourth and final goal for Illinois State came in the second half, when Keri Kujawa made a long stride up from the left and then passed to Hannah Leinert. SLU’s keeper ran out to make the save and Leinert slipped it past her and into the net to put the Redbirds up for a final tally of 4-1.

After allowing 13 combined goals during their three-game losing streak at the end of August, ISU’s defense has allowed just six in their last five games. Goalkeeper Aryn Newsom has been at the helm of that defense, making 27 saves. Backs Alyse Williams and Gabbi McArtor have each played in every minute of each of these last five games.

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