In a tune-up for the start of the 2009 regular season, the Valparaiso Crusaders battled Indiana to a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening in Bloomington, Ind. in exhibition action for both schools.
The first half of action was a defensive battle, incorporating both physical play and strong defensive tactics. The Crusaders defense led by junior Sarah Melhorn (White Bear Lake, Minnesota/White Bear Lake H.S.), held the Hoosiers to just seven first half shots.
"I was pleased with the performance tonight with regards to our shape and organization against a very well coached team in Indiana,” head coach, John Marovich said.
After a scoreless opening half, Jackie Kondratko (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) put the Crusaders on top with 16 minutes remaining, scoring after picking up a loose ball in front of the goal. Indiana tied the contest with just 5:21 remaining as Natalie O’Bryan took a cross from Christie Kotynski and scored at the far post.
Kondratko has had a flare for the dramatic in the past, as she carried the Crusaders to victory twice in their 2008 campaign, with game winning goals against Ball State and The Air Force Academy.
Although Indiana outshot Valpo 20-5 on the evening, only seven of the 20 shots were on goal. Mele Cabral (Boulder, Colo./Fairview H.S.) made two saves in the first 60 minutes of action while Rachel DeFrank (Mason, Ohio/Mason H.S.) had three stops in the final 30 minutes.
Freshman Janine Lytle (Wooster, Ohio/Wooster H.S.) and Luisa Desario (Bartlett, Illinois/Bartlett H.S.) proved that they will be an asset to the already physical, hardworking Crusader squad. Lytle and DeSario battled for every free ball, which eventually paid off for Lytle as she contributed to the development of Kondratko’s goal.
"It is difficult to go on the road and get a result especially at a place like Indiana," Marovich said. "I saw performances tonight from our young players that give us a tremendous amount of excitement for their development along with our upperclassmen showing great leadership and poise in the match."
Overtime was not played for the exhibition contest.
Valparaiso will open the regular season on Friday evening as the Crusaders head to Morehead, Ky. to battle Morehead State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CDT.