During Friday’s match, senior Hannah Rodgers scored a goal that not only lifted her team to victory, but also helped honor the legacy of her late brother.
The Bloomington native’s strike at 32:01 led Illinois State soccer (4-5-2, 0-1) to a 1-0 victory against Missouri-Kansas City (4-6-1) at Adelaide Street Field as a part of Local Heroes Night. It was the first time Rodgers scored a goal in regulation since the 2015 season.
ISU’s win was the culmination of an emotional day for Rodgers and her family. As a part of Local Heroes Night, ISU honored her late older brother, Sgt. Josh Rodgers, who was an Army ranger.
On April 27 of this past year, Sgt. Rodgers was killed in action during a raid on an Islamic State compound in Afghanistan. He was 22 years old.
“It was very emotional,” Rodgers said about what gameday had been like for her. “But [I] just wanted to pull out the win for my brother and getting the goal felt pretty good.”
Before the match, with Hannah and her family present on the field, Sgt. Rodgers was honored during a pre-game ceremony. The evening was the latest example in which the team displayed its support for the Rodgers family.
“It’s definitely really cool to have a whole family right behind me and helping me out every step of the way,” Rodgers said. “I definitely have them to lean on whenever times are tough, so that’s really good.”
Rodgers also added that the community has come out and shown support for her and the impact it has had.
“There’s definitely people around the community that come out to my games now and cheer me on and just send me texts and calls just to make sure I’m alright, which is cool,” Rodgers said.
ISU gained control of the match early on, but still struggled at finding a way to score. Rodgers would come off the bench at 29:38 to replace junior Angel Krell. Nearly three minutes later, Rodgers made her mark.
With just under 13 minutes left in the first half, Rodgers took a pass from senior Kelli Zickert into the box and split a shot between two incoming defenders before the ball snuck inside the right post for what would be the game-winning goal.
“How awesome was that?” ISU head coach Brad Silvey said about Rodgers’ goal. “I’m so happy for her.”
The ISU defense went on to preserve the victory, with sophomore goalkeeper Haley Smith getting her fifth shutout of the season after making five saves.
The Redbirds began their first winning streak of the season Sunday, defeating Western Illinois, 1-0.
ISU next takes the field at 7 p.m. Wednesday against UIC in Normal.