Valparaiso won its seventh consecutive match on Friday evening,
advancing to Sunday’s Horizon League championship match with a 2-1 victory over
second-seeded Wright State in the semifinals in Engelmann Field in Milwaukee, Wis.
For the third-seeded
Crusaders, it will mark their first appearance ever in the Horizon League
championship after joining the league prior to the 2007 season. Valpo will take regular season champion Milwaukee, a 2-0 victory over Loyola (Chicago)
in the second semifinal, at 1 p.m. on Sunday with an NCAA Tournament bid at stake.
“In tournament play you look
to stay alive,” head coach John Marovich
said. “We’re still alive and will be
ready to play on Sunday.”
The Brown and Gold jumped on
top 28:50 into the match as Brooke
Henderson (Westlake, Ohio/Westlake H.S.) scored on a header off of a corner
kick from Trisha Wladecki (Avon
Lake, Ohio/Avon Lake H.S.), one of two corner kicks the Crusaders earned on the
evening. Scoring first would prove key
for Valpo, as the Crusaders have now scored first in all 11 of their victories
Valpo took the 1-0 lead into
intermission as both teams managed seven shot attempts in the opening 45
The Crusaders wasted little
time in the second half adding what would prove to be the valuable insurance
tally just 2:55 out of the locker room. Henderson found Jessie
White (Buffalo Grove,
Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) in the corner of the box
and White sent it far post for her second goal of the season. For Henderson who drew the assist, it marked
a three-point match after the sophomore had registered two total in her career
prior to the match.
“I thought Jessie had a very
nice match today and Brooke was very good in the midfield,” added
Marovich. “Every third of the field did
a solid job managing the game. Scoring
that early goal in the second half turned out to be a big deal”
Wright State (11-7-2) cut the Crusaders’ lead in half with 26:44
remaining. Jen Agueci sent a high ball
into the box that Nicole Amador and found the back of the net.
H.S.) stayed strong the rest of the way though, making four saves on the night
to keep the Brown and Gold unbeaten in its last eight matches overall and
defeat the Raiders for the first time in program history.
“Mele was solid yet again
tonight,” Marovich added.
Valpo (11-8-1) outshot the
Raiders 15-2 for the match and had the only corner opportunities of the
day. Wright State
goalkeeper Meghan Hackerson made four saves in the loss.
Valparaiso will look for its second conference championship in
program history on Sunday, and first since 2005 when the Brown and Gold won the
Mid-Continent Conference to earn its only NCAA Tournament appearance in program
Match Notes: Valpo
last appeared in a conference title match in 2005 when Valpo defeated Oakland
3-1 for the Mid-Con crown … the Crusaders avenged an earlier 3-0 loss to Wright
State during the regular season and improved to 1-7 all-time against the
Raiders … White’s goal was the ninth of her career and gives her 26 career
points, 10th most in school history … Wladecki’s assist was her
second of the year … Valpo is now 6-10-2 all-time in neutral site matches but
has won two straight … White played in her 77th career match, tied
for fifth all-time at Valpo … the match-winning goal was White’s fourth of her
career, tied for ninth on the all-time list with Allison Swanson (2002-2005) …
Valpo’s 11 wins are the third most in program history … the seven-match win
streak is second longest in school history, one shy of the school record …
Sunday’s championship will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and on
the Horizon League Network.