NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Quite simply, Rachel Tejada’s soccer career at Illinois State is hard to put into words.
She made teams around the nation take note of the Redbird program.
“When you play any team in college and you know no matter what the level you’re playing that you might have the best player on the field, that gives you tremendous confidence in the locker room and when you’re headed out to play,” said former ISU soccer coach Drew Roff.
Tejada played for Roff from 2011-14 in a remarkable career that will put here in the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame next month.
“What Rachel Tejada did at Illinois State during her soccer career won’t happen again. And it defined our soccer program,” said ISU Senior Deputy Director Leanna Bordner. “It elevated our soccer program. Rachel Tejada put Illinois State soccer on the map.”
What Tejada did was re-write the Missouri Valley record book. She’s still the only player to earn conference player of the year honors four times.
She holds the league’s career records in goals, assists and points. And the former All-American led the Redbirds to four NCAA Tournament, helping ISU win two NCAA tournament matches.
“Up to that point, no MVC team had won a game in the NCAA Tournament,” said Roff, who’s now entering his ninth year as soccer coach at Purdue. “But when you have Rachel Tejada, you believe you can do things that had never been done before.”
She scored a conference record 21 goals as a freshman, which laid the foundation for her stellar career. She entered the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021 and now is being cognized as one of the Missouri Valley’s all-time great players.
The induction ceremony is March 3 in St. Louis as part of “Arch Madness,” the MVC’s men’s basketball conference tournament.
“Her accolades are incredible,” Roff said. “She’s a special player, special person and a great competitor. Certainly one of the most impressive college soccer careers you would ever imagine.”