Valparaiso’s women’s soccer team became the first Crusader program to take to the playing field this season, posting a 1-0 victory against Illinois State on Tuesday afternoon at Adelaide Street Field in Normal, Ill.
"We entered the match just five days into camp, but we accomplished a lot of our goals coming into the contest," head coach John Marovich said. "We learned a lot about our team today that we can take with us as we move into our next exhibition match on Sunday."
The two sides battled to a scoreless opening 45 minutes on a hot, humid afternoon. Crusader freshman goalkeeper Kristen Manski (Saint Charles, Ill./North H.S.) kept the Redbirds off of the scoreboard with three first half saves on four Illinois State shots. Valpo registered five shot attempts in the opening stanza, but each one was off net.
Illinois State, the preseason favorite in the Missouri Valley Conference, registered the first three shot attempts of the second half, all off the mark.
Another Crusader freshman, Hailey Chmela (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich H.S.) then stepped up, and gave the Brown and Gold the lead. Her shot from 15 yards out went high over Illinois State goalkeeper Mara Kremenovic’s head, putting Valpo on top 1-0 with just 14:15 to play in regulation time.
The Redbirds had a chance to tie with under three minutes to play, but Anna Stinson’s shot went off of the crossbar.
Amanda Ulin (Solon, Iowa/Solon H.S.), another freshman, looked to add an insurance tally with just over a minute remaining, but Kremenovic made the save, the only stop by an Illinois State goalkeeper on the afternoon.
Illinois State finished the match holding a slim 8-7 shot advantage, but Manski’s three saves helped preserve the shutout for the Crusaders.
"It is always nice to get a win," Marovich added. "But most important from today is what we take out of the match as we progress. We had a good overall sense of composure today, especially on defense."
Valparaiso will wrap up its exhibition schedule on Sunday afternoon, hosting Oakland University at Eastgate Field in a 1 p.m. match. The Crusaders then open the regular season on Saturday, August 21 with a 7 p.m. match against UMKC in Kansas City, Mo.