A pair of freshmen teamed for the lone goal of the match with just over 15 minutes remaining in regulation as Valparaiso continued the best start in program history with a 1-0 victory over Central Michigan on Friday afternoon at Eastgate Field.
In Valpo’s sixth 1-0 match of the season, including five victories, a pair of rookies came off of the bench mid-second half to provide the deciding tally. Mikki Nuccio (Ortonville, Mich./Brandon H.S.) sent a feed to Becky Clever (Cincinnati, Ohio/Madeira H.S.) on the right side from the middle of the penalty area and Clever went one-on-one with Chippewa goalkeeper Shay Mannino before beating her and finding the back of the net for her first collegiate goal.
The Crusader defense remained strong the rest of the way to hold on for the shutout, despite Central Michigan (5-2) outshooting the Brown and Gold 8-3 in the second half. The Chippewas held a slim 11-10 shot advantage for the match as Valpo had a 7-3 edge in the first 45 minutes.
“I am really proud of the way the match went and the way we battled today. We kept our shape well,” head coach John Marovich said. “We kept plucking away offensively and Becky was able to stick one in the back of the net.”
Mele Cabral (Boulder, Colo./Fairview H.S.) made five saves, including three in the second half, to record her sixth shutout of the season, and third straight. The six shutouts tie Erin Murray’s 2004 and 2007 school marks for clean sheets in a season, and Cabral moves into second place alone on the all-time list with eight for her career.
“I am really happy for Mele,” Marovich added. “It couldn’t have happened to a better kid. She played behind Murray for two years watching and now is performing. She has been very calm all year and dealt with the pressure she has faced on the field. Her restarts have helped us immensely.”
Mannino made three saves for the Chippewas as Central Michigan surrendered just its fourth goal of the season.
Valparaiso (6-1-1) will return to Eastgate Field on Sunday afternoon for the final match prior to Horizon League play when the Coyotes of South Dakota visit. The match can be heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpoathletics.com.
Match Notes: Valpo’s 6-1-1 mark through eight matches betters the start of the 2006 team which went 6-2 … Clever’s goal was her first collegiate match-winner as well as first goal … Nuccio recorded her first collegiate point with the assist … Central Michigan was receiving votes in the latest SoccerBuzz Great Lakes Region poll … Valpo is now 2-3 all-time against Central Michigan with both wins coming at Eastgate Field … Cabral has now gone 308:00 without allowing a goal and has lowered her season’s goals against average to 0.24 … the six shutouts as a team is second most in school history for a single season, with the school record being eight set in 2007 … Valpo is unbeaten in its last six matches (5-0-1).