Freshman Mikki Nuccio (Ortonville, Mich./Brandon H.S.) scored her first two collegiate goals as Valparaiso celebrated Senior Day at Eastgate Field with a 2-0 victory over Cleveland State on Sunday afternoon.
On a day in which the Crusaders were honoring the eight members of their senior class, it was a rookie who made sure the team celebrated in a positive manner. Just 1:12 out of halftime, Nuccio took a pass from Lori Johnson (Sachse, Texas/Naaman Forest H.S.) on the right side and beat goalkeeper Kelly Zinkiewich from 10 yards out in the box. Johnson, a senior who drew the assist, was on the field for the first time all season after suffering a back injury.
“We played an inspired second half led by Lori Johnson who brought energy to us on Senior Day,” head coach John Marovich said afterwards. “She stepped onto the field after halftime and changed the game.”
Nuccio then added the insurance tally at 60:13 taking a cross from Jessie White (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) that deflected off of Kendall Brown (Lake Zurich, Ill./Carmel Catholic H.S.) and found the back of the net to put Valpo on top 2-0.
“I am really happy for Mikki,” added Marovich. “She’s been working hard for three weeks and today she got rewarded for her efforts with a pair of goals.”
That would be all the offense the Crusaders would need as Mele Cabral (Boulder, Colo./Fairview H.S.) made four saves in goal on the way to increasing her single season shutout record at Valpo to eight. The eight clean sheets also tie a team mark for shutouts in a season.
Each team had five shot attempts in the first half, but Valpo held a 9-3 advantage in the final 45 minutes to finish with a 14-8 edge for the match. The Crusaders also had four corner kick opportunities without surrendering one to the Vikings.
Zinkiewich made three stops for Cleveland State (6-9-1, 1-4-1 Horizon).
Valparaiso (10-5-1, 2-4) will head to Wisconsin next weekend to wrap up the regular season with a pair of matches, beginning Friday night at Green Bay with a 7 p.m. contest against the Phoenix.
Match Notes: Valpo improves to 5-0 all-time against Cleveland State … Brown takes over the team lead with eight points this season … the assist moves Brown into a tie for second on Valpo’s career list with 11 and gives her 51 career points, third most all-time … her four assists this year move her into a tie for eighth place on the single season charts … Johnson had played all of 1:16 in the match, and the season, before registering the assist, the eighth of her career moving her into a tie for ninth on the all-time list … Valpo finished the home season 7-2, tying for the most wins ever at home … the senior class has won 44 matches over four seasons … Jackie Thomas (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley Northwest H.S.) started her 73rd consecutive match moving into a tie for ninth all-time in school history … Cabral now has 10 career shuouts … Valpo is 8-1 this season when outshooting opponents.