Jackie Thomas (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley Northwest H.S.) headed home the match-winning goal just 1:36 into overtime on Sunday afternoon as Valparaiso defeated Northern Iowa 1-0 at Eastgate Field.
The goal was her fourth of the season, all match-winners, as the junior has tied the school’s single season victory winner mark held by Lori Moore (2000 and 2001) and teammate Lori Johnson (Sachse, Texas/Naaman Forest H.S.) (2006). She is also tied for fourth in the career record book with five match-winners.
“Jackie brings enthusiasm to our restarts, Valparaiso head coach Stephen Anthony said. “She is aggressive and confident and gives us a tremendous opportunity whenever we win a restart, especially corners.”
Lynnea Pappas (Parma, Ohio/Holy Name H.S.) set up the winning tally with her corner kick from the far side, which found Thomas’ head on the backside of the goal, less than five yards out.
“Going into overtime I felt very confident in our chances and we talked about continuing to play the ball wide, creating 1 v. 1 opportunities,” Anthony added. “We wanted to be aggressive in trying to win the end line because I felt we would either get a good service or a corner kick. After having seven in regulation, I was confident it might just be a matter of time before we scored off a corner.”
The Crusaders have not lost an overtime contest dating back to the 2003 season, a span of 16 straight matches in which Valpo has posted a 7-0-9 mark.
The Crusaders began pressuring the Panthers net late in the second half, winning eight corner kick opportunities in the contest, all in the second 45 minutes or overtime.
Valpo outshot Northern Iowa (2-3-1) 11-7 for the match, led by an 8-2 advantage after halftime. Heidi O’Mara made two saves for the Panthers while Mele Cabral (Boulder, Colo./Fairview H.S.) made three first half stops on her way to her second career shutout, both coming this season.
The shutout is also the fifth by the Crusader defense this season, and fourth in their last five matches. The five shutouts are tied for second most in a single season, and are just one shy of Valpo’s school record.
“I’m certainly very pleased with our defending this season so far,” Anthony said. “Even when we make mistakes we’ve been able to recover and little things haven’t been too critical.”
Valparaiso (5-2), winners of four of its last five, will now take to the road next weekend, beginning with a Friday night match at Pacific. Kickoff against the Tigers is set for 9 p.m. CDT in Stockton, Calif., with the match being carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.