Valparaiso is on to the championship match of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament after defeating Centenary 1-0 on Friday afternoon in the semifinal match held in Rochester, Mich.
Allison Swanson (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley H.S.) scored the match's lone goal at the 26:48 mark and it held up for the victory.
With the win, the Crusaders will advance to face Oral Roberts on Sunday for the title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Valpo got the first quality scoring chance of the match 20 minutes into the match as Kelly Faulkner (Plymouth, Minn./Maple Grove H.S.) got in behind the defense but just shot high over the post from eight yards out.
The Crusaders found the back on their next scoring chance. Kristi Dixon (Ortonville, Mich./Notre Dame Prep H.S.) served the ball from the right touch line to the center of the box, where Swanson collected the ball. She then fired from inside of ten yards, beating goalkeeper Lindsey Stafford into the left side of the goal. For Swanson, it was her team-leading sixth goal of the year, and moved her into sixth place on Valpo's single season list.
Centenary had its first opportunity with eight minutes remaining in the half after winning a corner kick, as Melinda Levinski's service went into the box, but was cleared out for a second straight corner. The second corner again was cleared by the Brown and Gold's defense.
Valpo had another chance late in the half, earning a corner kick with two minutes remaining. Dixon's cross went a little too far though, across the sideline. After the ensuing throw-in, Swanson fired a shot from the top of the box just wide right.
The Brown and Gold went into the locker room in front 1-0, having dominated most of the first half of play. Valpo held a 6-1advantage in shots, although, the only one on goal was Swanson's that found the back of the net.
The Ladies had the first quality opportunity of the second half with 36 minutes remaining. Sara Thompson sent a free kick from 25 yards out into the middle of the box, but Valpo's defense yet again was able to clear.
Valpo had a corner kick with 24:30 remaining, but Jen Bartels (Muskegon, Mich./Mona Shores H.S.) sent it past everyone into the Centenary defense.
The Crusaders made another run in the 74th minute, but were called offsides before putting the ball in the net. Bartels then walked in on goal with 13 minutes remaining and fired from the left side of the box, but Stafford pushed the shot aside.
Centenary's first shot on goal came with just over seven minutes remaining as Thompson fired from 25 yards out. Erin Murray (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley H.S.) made the routine save without traffic in front though.
The Ladies had a corner kick with 1:30 remaining, but Levinski's attempt went through the goal mouth and out of play. Heather Kasparek thad Centenary's final chance with 30 seconds remaining, but her header went off the outside of the post.
Valparaiso held a 7-3 advantage in shots for the match. Murray and Stafford each made one save. The Crusaders had just two corner kick opportunities in the match while Centenary (14-5-1) had three. With the shutout, Murray's sixth of the season, she becomes Valpo's all-time single season shutout leader.
Valpo (10-7-2) has now tied a school record for wins in a season. The Crusaders will look for their first tournament title and NCAA appearance against Oral Roberts (13-5-1). The Golden Eagles defeated Valpo 1-0 during the regular season. Kickoff in the title match is scheduled for 12 p.m. CST.