The Illinois State women's soccer team fell to Valparaiso in its final home game by a score of 1-0.
“We have an unbelievable group of student-athletes that I firmly believe in," head coach Brad Silvey said. “I think they really need to start believing in themselves a little bit more and that they have the ability to be a more consistent team from start to finish in a contest.”
For the Redbirds this was their senior night. The team only had one senior in Abby Basler. This will be Basler’s fifth and final season with the team.
“She is for sure gone after this season. Academically it didn’t make sense, Silvey said. “She’s a competitor and she wants to play but she also has a life to live beyond this too.”
It was a defensive battle in the first half, with neither team able to get much of an edge. The Redbirds were able to get four shots in the last 10 minutes but not able to get the ball in the back of the net.
On the defensive end, the Redbirds held Valparaiso to only two shots through the first 25 minutes of play. Freshman Daniela Grgas got her second straight start for the Redbirds.
A big offsides call late in the first half took away a goal from Valparaiso and kept the game knotted at zero. The Redbirds immediately went down the field and got a good shot on goal but goalie Nikki Coryell made a huge save for Valparaiso.
A couple of late corner kicks gave Valparaiso opportunities to score but they were unable to convert. Both teams finished out the half with seven shots but tied at zero.
“We’ve got some work to do to develop some consistency from one game to the next," Silvey said.
Natalie Graf would get Valparaiso on the board first after scoring a goal assisted by Kelsie James. This was Valparaiso’s first shot attempt of the second half.
“We’ve had a hard time coming back from goals this year,” Silvey said.
The Redbirds continued to get good looks early in the second half but Coryell continued her good goaltender play for Valparaiso.
The Redbirds had two more great looks on goal but the second shot would go off the goal post and would still trail 1-0 late in the match.
“We’ve had a hard time if we go down a goal trying to find our way back," Silvey said.
The Redbirds would control the ball for most of the second half but would not be able to find the back of the net. Multiple shots on goal in the last five minutes of the game all fall short after saves by Coryell for Valparaiso. Coryell had nine saves on the afternoon.
“I think we created enough chances to win the game," Silvey said. “Have to give a lot of credit to Valpo’s goalkeeper, I thought she came up pretty big.”
The Redbirds had 23 shots on the afternoon and only allowed 11 shots on the defensive end. With the loss, the Redbirds move to 4-4 in conference play and 4-6 on the season.
“At the end of the day, the message to the team is that it doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter who, we’ve gotta find a way to lock in and stick to our identity," Silvey said.
The Redbirds will play again on Sunday, April 11 after they find out who and where they will play in the Missouri Valley tournament as seeding gets figured out.
“Out of all of the teams going into this tournament, I guarantee that we are one of the most dangerous teams," Silvey said.