The long-running Althoff-Triad girls soccer rivalry will add a new chapter Friday in the NCAA women's soccer tournament.
Triad High graduate and two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Rachel Tejada will lead Illinois State against Marquette, which has Althoff High graduate Megan Jaskowiak starting on one of the nation's top defenses.
"We both were very competitive," said Jaskowiak, a senior outside back from Belleville. "I never really played that much against her in high school because she was a forward and I was always up on the other side of the field.
"I know she's a good player and one of them we're going to have to watch."
Illinois State (13-4) will travel to 12th-ranked Marquette (16-2) for a 7 p.m. first-round game Friday in Milwaukee, Wis. No MVC team has ever won an NCAA Tournament match, while Marquette won its first Big East Conference title in school history.
Althoff has two more players in the NCAA Tournament with forwards Megan Pawloski (Illinois) and Kelsey Dinges (Miami-Ohio).
Althoff won a state soccer championship in 2010, finished second in 2008, third in 2005 and also qualified in 2004. Triad won the 2011 state title, finished second in 2003 and also went in 2002.
The area is also represented at the NCAA Division II Tournament with Allison Menchak (Triad) and Jessie York (O'Fallon) starting for Bellarmine.
Tejada has a Missouri Valley Conference-leading 18 goals and also has 10 assists. Her 18 goals ranks sixth in the nation; she's also fourth nationally in points (46) and third in points per game (2.42).
Jaskowiak thinks it's great to have so many former metro-east players in the NCAA Tournament. She wasn't sure she'd ever be playing against one of them, however.
"I always knew it was a possibility because people weren't going too far away and were staying in the Midwest," said Jaskowiak, in her second year as a starter for Marquette. "Being in the NCAA Tournament is cool because one of our coaches said 85 percent of the teams are done with their season."
Marquette's backfield is led by Big East Defensive Player of the Year Ally Miller. Miller, Jaskowiak and the rest of the defense have allowed only 12 goals all season, recording 15 shutouts overall and 11 in their last 13 matches.
"We pride ourselves on our defense here and being able to work really hard at it and having that pay off in a game are awesome," Jaskowiak said. "I'm playing with some of the best defenders in the country, so that helps a lot, too.
"We all started clicking at one point and it's not just the defense that plays defense, it was our whole team playing together. That's where our success comes from."
Jaskowiak has one goal and one assist this season from her defensive spot. She transferred to Marquette after her freshman year at Missouri State and has one goal and five assists in her career.
"I'm really happy where I am," Jaskowiak said. "The level of competition in the Big East has made me become more mature as a player."
Tejada has earned MVC Player of the Year in each of her first two seasons. She had three goals and two assists at the MVC Tournament, helping the Redbirds win their second straight conference title.
Tejada had two goals Friday in a 2-1 semifinal victory over Creighton.
"It was a special performance from Rachel tonight," Illinois State head coach Drew Roff told ChicagolandSoccerNews.com. "We were not creating a ton of chances, and we had a little bit of trouble keeping the ball. It wasn't our finest performance, so we needed someone to step up and make plays. That's what Rachel does."
Tejada contributed a goal and two assists Sunday in a 5-1 win over Indiana State that gave ISU the conference championship.
As a freshman, Tejada became the first All-American in Redbirds' women's soccer history and only the second to earn a first-team slot on the All-Great Lakes Region squad. She finished her first collegiate season with a school-record 21 goals and also had nine assists, winning MVC Player of the Week honors seven times.
With 39 goals in two seasons, Tejada already is second on the all-time ISU scoring list.
*Pawloski and the Fighting Illini(10-8-3) will face Missouri (14-7) in a 6:30 p.m. first-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday in Columbia, Mo.
The Illini lost 2-1 to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game. Pawloski, a junior forward, has started 10 of 21 games this season and has five assists and seven shots on goal.
The high school All-American had six goals and 14 points last season as a sophomore and five goals and 12 points as a freshman.
*Dinges finished third in scoring for Miami (Ohio) as a sophomore midfielder, helping the Redhawks (19-2-1) reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002.
Miami will play its first-round NCAA Tournament game at 2 p.m. Sunday at 19th-ranked Tennessee. The Redhawks have a 15-game unbeaten streak.
Dinges, a Smithton resident, has 10 goals and six assists, starting all 22 games. Dinges earned first-team All-Mid-America Conference honors this season, firing 60 shots on net with three-game winning goals.
* Belleville West graduate Seth Rudolph ended his college soccer career at George Washington University on an extremely high note.
Rudolph, a senior co-captain, scored a goal in his final game, a 2-1 loss to 21st-ranked Charlotte. He led the Colonials with seven goals and 14 points this season.
He finished his career ranked seventh on George Washington's all-time scoring list with 29 goals and 11th all-time with 63 points.
Rudolph was named second-team All-Atlantic 10 Conference, marking his third time on the all-conference team. He was a first-team selection in 2011 and second-team choice in 2010, also earning All-Rookie Team honors as a freshman in 2009.
* Menchak is a senior midfielder for Bellarmine, which is playing Rockhurst in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament at 7 p.m. Friday. She has two goals in 19 games.
York is a junior defensive back with one goal in 19 games.
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.