ILLINOIS STATE:

Women No. 2 in MVC soccer tourney: Anna Stinson’s game-winning goal earned the Illinois State soccer team a first-round bye for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

Stinson scored off a give and go with Rachel Tejada in the second half to send the Redbirds to a 2-1 victory over Drake in the regular-season finale at Des Moines, Iowa.

With the win, ISU finished at 11-4-2 overall and 4-2 in Valley play, earning the No. 2 seed for the league tournament which starts Nov. 2 in Omaha, Neb.

Tejada gave ISU a 1-0 lead with her league-leading 15th goal on a header with an assist from Kyla Cross just over five minutes into the match.

Aryn Newsom made eight saves to earn the win for the Redbirds. Laura Moklestad scored the only goal for Drake (12-5-2, 3-1-2).

ISU women favored in Valley cross country: The Illinois State women were picked to defend their Missouri Valley Conference cross country title in the pre-championship poll released Thursday.

The Redbirds received 96 points and six first-place votes. The Valley men’s and women’s championships are Saturday at ISU’s Weibring Golf Club, with the women’s 5,000-meter race at 10:30 a.m. and the men’s 8,000-meter race at 11:30 a.m.

ISU’s Rachael Brewer, Elise Sigg and Kelly McShea have three of the top 10 5,000-meter times in the Valley this season. Wichita State was second in the poll with 86 points and three first-place votes. The Shockers’ Aliphine Tuliamuk is the defending champion.

On the men’s side, ISU was picked to finish seventh. Sophomore Ryan Rutherford was 13th last year and has been ISU’s top performer this season with the league’s fifth-fastest time in the 8,000.

Graduation rate rises: The Graduation Success Rate Report released by the NCAA Thursday showed Illinois State student-athletes continue to graduate at a high rate.

The most recent student-athlete GSR class (those who enrolled in 2002 through 2005) recorded an 85 percent four-year Graduation Success Rate.  The ISU four-year GSR has steadily increased from 77 percent in 2000 to this year’s 85 percent mark.

The GSR report also showed that Illinois State’s numbers exceed the overall Division I Graduation Success Rate numbers and Federal Graduation Rates in most every sport.

Seven of ISU’s teams’ four-year GSR had a 100 percent graduation rate:  men’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, women’s golf, gymnastics, women’s tennis and volleyball.

ILLINOIS WESLEYAN

Men’s basketball picked second: Illinois Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team was ranked second in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin preseason poll.

The Titans (23-8, 10-4 last year) received 39 points and one first-place vote. North Central (22-8, 12-2), the defending regular-season and tournament champion, was voted No. 1 with 49 points and seven first-place votes.

Carthage was third with 36 points, followed by Augustana (31), Wheaton (29), Elmhurst (19), North Park (11) and Millikin (10). Voting was done by the CCIW coaches, who could not vote for their own teams.

Women’s soccer routs North Park: Tillie Bill scored three goals to lead the Illinois Wesleyan women’s soccer team past North Park 5-0 at Bloomington. Two of Bill’s scores came in the first half, one assisted by Alice Fontana to help the Titans to a 4-0 lead at the break.

Fontana put IWU (8-8, 4-2) on the board early, scoring 2:09 into the contest on an assist from Kate Dunaway and Emily Hinchman. Hannah Ketterling also had a first half goal for the Titans.

Bill and Fontana teamed up for the Titans’ final score of the game late in the second period. The goal was Bill’s ninth of the season.

IWU outshot North Park 16-4. IWU goal keeper Zoie Samaan had two saves.

HEARTLAND

Women’s soccer advances to final: Brittany Mielke scored in regulation and the Hawks made all five of their penalty kicks after overtime to beat Parkland in the NJCAA Region 24 semifinals at the Corn Crib.

The teams ended regulation and both overtimes tied at 1-1. Alex Fahlbeck, Alecia Mantei, Rachel Murrill, Kalee Hutchison and Ariel LaRocco converted their penalty kicks.

Danielle Koncius made eight saves and stopped one Parkland penalty kick. LaRocco’s goal rendered Parkland’s final attempt unnecessary.

The top-seeded (13-2-1) Hawks will host No. 2 Kaskaskia in Sunday’s noon championship match.

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