After a narrow 2-1 victory for the Illinois State soccer team over the Missouri State Bears in the first Missouri Valley Conference contest of the season, both teams knew that they would have a battle on their hands Sunday afternoon.
This proved to be true, as the No. 4-seeded Redbirds pulled out a 1-0 victory over the No. 5-seeded Bears in the opening round of the MVC tournament at Adelaide Street Field.
“Winning at home in the situation we found ourselves in, being able to host a final game at Adelaide, just really excited for our team,” ISU head coach Brad Silvey said. “Their performance today was top notch. We were able to ultimately settle things down and notch one there in the second half.”
The opening half saw very little offensive action as both sides displayed a solid defensive effort. Missouri State edged ISU in shots 8-7, but both teams had 4 shots on goal.
ISU saw their best opportunity to put a tally on the scoreboard midway through the first half as they failed to execute a breakaway shot and two corner kicks.
Another corner kick did not find the net for the ‘Birds in the 39’ minute as both teams headed into halftime scoreless.
The second half saw the Redbirds pick up their offensive aggression. ISU outshot the Bears 13-4, including 7-4 in shots on goal in the second period.
This aggression eventually led to the game-deciding goal in the 76’ minute, as Abby Basler collected a rebound on a broken play and found the net in the top left corner of the box. The goal, which was the fifth goal for Basler on the season, was assisted by Shaina Dudas.
“Natalie Vaughn-Low beat a bunch of defenders, got to the box and got a really good shot off,” Basler said. “It deflected, then Shaina (Dudas) got a really good shot off and I just cleaned it up.”
Despite frantic attempts to tie the game, the Bears were unable to gather any good looks at the goal. Illinois State would ultimately survive and advance to the next round.
The Redbirds (10-8-2) will advance to take on top-seeded Loyola-Chicago in the semifinals of the tournament Friday evening at 6 p.m. The contest will be played at the Ramblers’ home field, as they will host the remaining games of the tournament.