The Valparaiso women's soccer team struck first Saturday night in its Horizon League opener at Milwaukee, but three straight goals from the Panthers were too much to overcome, as the Crusaders fell by a 3-2 final.
After an opening push which saw the Crusaders tally four shots and a pair of corners in the opening 12 minutes, Valpo would break the seal on the scoreboard in the 27th minute. Senior Hailey Chmela (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) picked up her second goal of the season, registering an unassisted goal as she floated a shot from the outside over UWM goalkeeper Paige Lincicum to give Valpo a 1-0 lead.
"We came out tonight and had a very strong opening 15 minutes," said Crusader head coach John Marovich. "We had ourselves two very good looks, and pushed them a bit wide - those really could have changed the complexion of the match. We were able to hang in through that, though, and got a goal from Hailey to put ourselves on top."
But the Panthers would answer less than two minutes later, as Kelsey Dorbert took a pass from Krissy Dorre and sent a shot through traffic which took a deflection and found its way past Kristen Manski (St. Charles, Ill./North) to square up the match at 1-all. Dorre then put Milwaukee on top just 93 seconds before the break, one-timing a long feed from Callie O'Donnell at the far post to make it 2-1 Panthers.
"Right after we scored, we gave up a bit of an unfortunate goal on a shot from outside the box that took a deflection on Kristen," said Marovich. "Once that happened, I don't feel like we necessarily adjusted as well as we could have. There was about a 30-minute segment where we weren't as clean and crisp with our play - weren't as good with our one-on-one defending - and we let it get away."
Dorre picked up her second goal of the match on an assist by Maria Stephans in the 68th minute as Milwaukee took a two-goal lead. The Crusaders pulled one back in the 80th minute, as a corner kick led to a shot from sophomore Jenny Fassbinder (Hudson, Wis./Hudson). Her shot was stopped by Lincicum, but the rebound fell to freshman Allegra Godfrey (Oshkosh, Wis./Oshkosh) right in front of goal, and the rookie finished for her second goal in the last three games. But Valpo was unable to find the tying goal in the closing stages of the match.
"I thought we did a great job in the second half of settling down and getting the game back," said Marovich. "We have a lot of positives we can pull from this performance - lots of little details that we can learn from. It was a high-quality match, and I'm proud of our group for battling through the whole 90 minutes and pulling back a goal late to give themselves a chance."
Valpo and Milwaukee (3-7-1, 1-0-0 Horizon) both attempted 13 shots on the evening, with nine of the Crusaders' efforts going on frame to seven from the Panthers. Manski stopped four shots for Valpo, while Lincicum made seven saves for Milwaukee. The Crusaders also earned six of the match's seven corner kicks.
Valparaiso (6-4-1, 0-1-0 Horizon) looks to move up the league table next Saturday night at Brown Field, as the Crusaders host Cleveland State. Live stats for the game will be available through ValpoAthletics.com.