Valparaiso opened the 2007 season on Friday afternoon with a 2-0 shutout victory over Murray State at Eastgate Field. The victory marked the Crusaders’ third straight season-opening win, and first shutout ever to begin a new year.
The Crusaders found the scoreboard just 15:24 into the new campaign. Sarah Jewell (Kansas City, Mo./Park Hill H.S.) took a corner kick from the farside and found Jackie Thomas (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley Northwest H.S.) who headed the ball off of the goal post and connected on what would end up being her second career match-winner.
Valpo took the 1-0 lead into intermission, despite outshooting the Racers 6-2 in the opening 45 minutes.
“In the first half we did a good job combining between the midfield and forward line creating opportunities, head coach Stephen Anthony said. “I’m very pleased we were able to score off a corner kick. We take great pride in trying to execute properly on all restarts and when you get a goal it is a strong way to start the season.”
Jessie White (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) added an insurance goal with 15:07 remaining in the match, taking a through ball from Reva Van Aartsen (Brookfield, Wis./Brookfield East H.S.) and beating Murray State goalkeeper Tara Isbell from 20 yards out. Sammy Olson (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) started the play from the midfield and also drew an assist.
Erin Murray (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley H.S.) made a pair of saves in the match for the Brown and Gold to earn her 15th career shutout. Isbell made two stops as well for Murray State (0-1).
“Erin’s leadership in the back just continues to keep this team well organized and along with Jackie Thomas it was a solid effort defensively to earn the shutout.”
The Crusaders finished the match holding a 10-8 advantage in shot attempts as well as a 3-0 edge in corner kick opportunities.
“I was very pleased with how disciplined we were defending along the backline and in the midfield,” Anthony said on the victory.
Valparaiso (1-0) will continue its homestand on Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders host Illinois State. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Eastgate Field.