TOLEDO - In a battle between two of the premier mid-major women's soccer programs in the country, Toledo came up on the short end of a 1-0 decision against Illinois State on Sunday at Scott Park. With the non-league finale loss, UT falls to 2-6-0 on the season.
The Mid-American Conference preseason favorite Rockets more than held their won against the Missouri Valley Conference preseason frontrunner Redbirds (5-2-2) and finished with a commanding 18-7 edge in shots and a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks. Unfortunately for the Midnight Blue & Gold, they were unable to put the ball into the back of the net and suffered their fourth shutout of the season.
Freshman Megan Connor paced UT with a match-high four shots, while sophomore Kirsten Catloth and sophomore Meghan Topolewski had three shots each. The two-time reigning MAC regular-season champs played today's non-conference finale without the services of leading scorer junior Rachel MacLeod (six points, three goals) and junior Emily Tustin (two points, one goal). Both missed the contest due to ankle injuries.
ISU's Sarah Mussallem scored the match's lone goal in the 58th minute on a well-executed play with teammate Rachel Tejada. The Redbirds' dynamic scoring machine Tejada raced the ball down the middle of the pitch and forced a pair of UT defenders to collapse down on her. She then perfectly led Mussallem down the right side deep into Toledo territory. The ISU forward took a quick dribble and lofted a shot over the head of Toledo freshman goalie Sam Tiongson into the upper 90 of the far post from 10 yards out for her second tally of the season at 57:07.
Toledo dominated the action in the opening half and was presented with a pair of golden scoring opportunities. Senior Blair Sorg had the first chance to find the back of the frame when she stole the ball from an ISU defender about 25 yards from the end line. Sorg took a couple quick touches and blasted a shot from straight out that sailed high over the cross bar at 24:18.
UT's other quality chance to strike first came late in the period when Connor received a pass from freshman Geri Siudzinski, and the Lodi, OH native put a low shot on target from close range. Much to the dismay of the Rocket faithful in attendance, ISU goalie Aryn Newsom made a nice stop to keep the match scoreless.
Moments later, Illinois State had their best opportunity to score in the opening 45 minutes when Kayla Campbell accepted a pass with her back to the goal on the right side from Kelly Rosenthal. The midfielder quickly turned on a dime and hammered a shot from about eight yards that Tiongson was in the right place to stop and make the difference 0-0 at the intermission.
Toledo kept attacking in the opening stages of the second half, and sophomore Sarah Seig came within inches of tallying her second goal of the season. The Cincinnati, OH native chipped a shot from approximately 20 yards out on the right side that caromed off the cross bar at the 51:41 mark.
Following ISU's goal, the Rockets had one other substantial scoring chance when Connor blasted a shot from approximately 12 yards out that Illinois State's Newsom punched over the cross bar and out of danger wth 28 minutes left in regulation.
Toledo tried desperately in the waning moments to tally the equalizer and pushed quite a few players forward in the attack, but the Redbirds' defense held their ground and denied the home team a good look at the frame.
Rachel Bostick and Abby Van Deventer led the visitors with two shots each in a winning effort.
Between the posts, UT's Tiongson went the distance and was credited with four saves. ISU's Newsom also played all 90 minutes and recorded four stops.
UT will now turn its attention to the league slate and open at West Division rival Western Michigan on Friday, Sept. 21. The opening whistle from the WMU Soccer Complex is slated for 4:00 p.m.