EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Illinois State (6-3-2, 0-1-0) soccer team dropped its Missouri Valley Conference opener for the first time since 2008, losing 4-1 at Evansville (2-6-2, 1-0-0) Sunday afternoon. The Redbirds allowed four goals for the first time since Aug, 21, 2009, including three from Purple Aces freshman Abby Springer.
“It was a disappointing effort today,” head coach Drew Roff said. “I thought that Evansville was the better team, start to finish. I think we got what we deserved today, unfortunately. Conference play is big for us, and that is what we prepare for. We are going to have to look at why we did not have a better performance today.”
The Redbirds fell behind in the 24th minute, as Springer headed home a corner kick service from the foot of Stephanie Thompson to put the Purple Aces up 1-0. That was the score entering the break, with ISU leading in shots at the half 7-6.
The Redbirds entered the second 45 minutes with hopes of a comeback, having outscored their opponents in the second half 14-6 through their first ten games. This game would be different, however, as the Purple Aces tallied three more times to secure the win.
Thompson scored her second goal of the season in the 54th minute on a ball that took a late deflection by ISU keeper Aryn Newsomto make it 2-0. In the 68th minute, Springer scored her second of the match by collecting a loose ball in the box and roofing it to put the Purple Aces up 3-0. After Rachel Bostick scored her first goal of 2012 on a header off of a flip throw from Sarah Mussallem, Springer completed the hat trick by getting in behind the ISU defense on a through ball from Thompson and burying the opportunity.
The Purple Aces fired 14 shots compared to ISU’s 11. Newsom made three saves in the defeat.
Sophomore Rachel Tejada, who entered the week in the top-10 nationally in goals, goals per game, points and points per game, was held without a goal for the third-straight match. That has happened only once before, from Sept. 18 through Sept. 30 in 2011.
The last time the Redbirds lost their MVC opener was Sept. 27, 2008, also at Evansville by a 4-1 score. The three-goal margin of defeat in both matches is also the highest in a conference game during Roff’s tenure. ISU was able to rebound from that loss in 2008, winning its final five Valley matches and the conference title.
“We have to figure out what we want to accomplish this year and bounce back,” Roff said. “The season is far from over, but we need to be better if we are going to have some success.”
The Redbirds will look to regain their form at Creighton on Saturday, Sept. 29. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.