The Illinois State women's soccer team has won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament three of the last four years. (Photo courtesy GoRedbirds.com)
By WJBC Staff
NORMAL - The Illinois State soccer team (13-4-2, 4-2-0 MVC) will travel to Milwaukee, Wis., for the second-straight season in the NCAA Tournament, this time to take on No. 4-seed Marquette (16-2-2, 9-0-1 Big East), Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
The back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champion Redbirds played the Milwaukee Panthers in the first round of last year's tournament, losing 3-0.
The Golden Eagles are coming off their first-ever Big East Conference Tournament championship, defeating Georgetown in Sunday's championship match, 1-0. They will be making their fifth-straight trip to the tournament, and 11th overall since 1999. They defeated Toledo, 1-0, in the first round last season, before losing to Penn State, 4-1, in the second round.
"We're excited about the opportunity," head coach Drew Roff said. "I have a lot of respect for their program, and they have had a great season up to this point. We realize that there are no easy games in the NCAA Tournament, so we are definitely going to be ready and prepare for them. Our main focus is going to be us sharpening up a couple of things this week, because we know we are going to need our best game of the year to have a chance to advance."
ISU clinched its spot in the field of 64 teams by winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament over the weekend. The second-seeded Redbirds knocked off No. 6-seed and tournament-host Creighton, 2-1, in the semifinals of the conference tournament before beating the fifth-seeded Sycamores in the title match. Two-time MVC Player of the Year Rachel Tejada was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, after scoring three goals and tallying two assists during the two matches. Tejada, Rachel Bostick, Aryn Newsom and Anna Stinson were also named to the All-Tournament team.
This will be the program's fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, and third in the last four years. The Redbirds' first bid came in 2003, when they lost to No. 16 Kansas, 3-1, in Columbia, Mo. Roff first led his team to the tournament in 2009, as the Redbirds fell to No. 9 Florida, 2-0, in Columbus, Ohio. Last season, ISU lost at No. 15 Milwaukee, 3-0. No team from the Missouri Valley Conference has ever won a game in the NCAA Tournament.
Seniors Bostick, Sarah Carlson, Kristin Cooley, Mara Kremenovic, Kelly Rosenthal and Heather Sterling represent the first class in program history to make three NCAA Tournament appearances. Their class is also the winningest in Roff's tenure at Illinois State, as the group has won 47 games over the past four seasons.
First-round matches will be played at campus sites November 9, 10 and 11. Second round matches will be played Friday, November 16, at campus sites, and third-round matches will be played Sunday, November 18, at the same campus sites. Quarterfinal matches will be played November 23, 24 or 25 also on campus sites.