After recording the first winning season in Valparaiso University women's soccer history and finishing in second place in the Mid-Continent Conference, confidence is high with the Crusaders. Coming off of a 10-9 season in 2001, Valpo will look to take the next step and win their first-ever conference crown.
Head coach Stephen Anthony, the reigning Mid-Con Coach of the Year, returns 13 letterwinners from last season's squad, including seven starters and two all-conference performers.
Senior Lori Moore returns for her final season to spearhead the Crusader offense. A three-time all-conference selection, Moore is at or near the top in almost every offensive category in the Valpo record books. The Crusaders all-time scoring leader is coming off of back-to-back double-figure goal-scoring seasons, and looks to move up in the Mid-Continent Conference record books. She enters 2002 in third place all-time in the Mid-Con in goals scored and career points.
Fellow senior Sarah Wittrock also returns to the Crusaders midfield and will help the offensive attack. Wittrock has six career tallies and five helpers, giving her 17 career points, second most among Valpo returnees.
In the midfield, Valpo will also look to Kova Kolondzic and Lindsay Holley. Both provided the Crusaders with quality minutes last season, and Anthony will look for the same out of them this year. Freshman Allison Swanson will add depth to the midfield position for the Crusaders.
On the Valpo frontline, Cathy DeVito moves back to forward after playing defense the past two seasons. The senior scored three goals up front as a freshman, before being moved to the back her sophomore year.
Amy Miller and Becky Maynard also return up front, and each has just one season's experience. As a rookie, Miller finished second on the team in scoring, and tallied a pair of match-winning goals, while Maynard moves up top from her midfield position last year.
Coach Anthony will have to look for freshmen to step up to add depth to the Valpo frontline. Two newcomers, Emily King and Ashley Shaneyfelt, will also compete for playing time at forward.
The Valpo defense may be the team's strength in 2002. Junior Courtney Budd was an all-conference selection as a sophomore and will be looked to again to step-up in the backfield.
Junior defenders Briana Erhardt and Jillian Keating each played vital roles for the Crusaders last season, helping the team tie a school-best with five shutouts last year. They also helped the team record a school-record for lowest team goals against average (1.51). Sophomore Kelly Faulkner will transition to the backfield for Valpo after spending her freshman season at forward.
In addition, Kate Battles will return to the Valpo backfield after missing most of her rookie season with a torn ACL. Prior to the injury, Battles was beginning to shown signs of becoming a major factor in the backfield. Freshmen Kristi Dixon and Lorna Torrez will also look to step in and earn some playing time on defense for the Crusaders in 2002.
In goal, Kristen Templin is the lone Crusader with match experience. A backup during her first two seasons, the junior has played in 14 contests, including four starting assignments. During her freshman year, she recorded one solo shutout, and has had four other partial shutouts in two seasons.
Senior Kathy Cooksey and freshman Danielle Guerra will each look to earn time between the pipes for the Brown and Gold when the 2002 season kicks off as well.
Valpo will open its regular season schedule at home on September 1, when the University of Toledo Rockets visit Eastgate Field. The Crusaders will then travel to Cal Poly for a tournament the following weekend, meeting the host Mustangs and the University of Pacific.
Half of the Brown and Gold's 18-match schedule will be played at Eastgate Field, including the Mid-Continent Conference opener against IUPUI on September 29. The Crusaders are also home for a pair of conference matches during homecoming weekend, October 11 and 13 against Southern Utah and Oral Roberts respectively.
Valpo's regular season will conclude on November 3 at home against Loyola, before the Crusaders travel to Tulsa, Okla. for the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament.
The Crusaders will hope the ball bounces in the right direction during 2002, and will look to claim their first conference title.