This week, the University of Northern Iowa women's soccer team faces a tough two-game road trip. The Panthers head to Normal, Ill., on Wednesday to face-off with defending MVC champion Illinois State. After the matchup in Normal UNI heads to Evansville Ind., for a match against Evansville. UNI (6-8-1, 1-1-1 MVC) could clinch a berth into the MVC tournament with two victories this week.
Scouting the Opponents
Illinois State (8-3-2, 1-1 MVC) is the defending MVC Tournament Champions. Illinois State is led on offense by the reigning MVC Player of the Year, MVC Freshman of the Year, and three-time 2012 MVC offensive player of the week honoree in sophomore Rachel Tejada. Tejada leads the Redbird squad with 11 goals and four assists to go along with 47 shots. Illinois State has two goalkeepers splitting time (Mara Kremenovic and Aryn Newsom) with Newsom logging most of the minutes in goal. Newsom has posted a 1.39 goals against average with 42 saves. Drew Roff is in the midst of his sixth year at the helm of the Redbirds.
Evansville (2-7-3, 1-1-1 MVC) has scored victories over Murray State and defending MVC champion Illinois State. The Purple Aces dropped their contest with MVC foe Drake, 1-0, and played to a 0-0 two-overtime draw with MVC foe Missouri State. Abby Springer leads the Purple Aces with four goals on the season to go along with one assist. Simone Busby and Chaviel Harrison have split time in goal with Busby seeing most of the recent action. Busby, the most recent MVC goalkeeper of the week honoree, has posted a goals against average of 0.47 with two shutouts. Krista McKendree is in her fifth season as the head coach of the Evansville Purple Aces.
Starting Conference On the Right Foot
The Panthers are off to their third-best start in program history to MVC play. UNI (1-1-1) only trails the 2002 and 2003 squads that started out 2-1 in conference play. The 2002 squad finished fifth while the 2003 squad ended up in fourth. The Panthers have never finished better than fourth (2003, T-4 2011).
Glass Half Fuller
Nine different Panthers have scored this season with sophomore Charlotte Jones leading the way with four goals. With Jones out with an injury, sophomore Caitlyn Fuller tallied her third score of the season on Saturday and has stepped up and filled the hole on the scoresheet. Along with the emergence of Fuller, six UNI players have at least three points this season including three of the top five being underclassmen.
Junior goalkeeper Erin Zaideman posted her fourth shutout of the season over St. Ambrose. Zaideman is closing in on the program record for shutouts in a season at UNI (5).