A goal in the 88th minute sent the Valparaiso women’s soccer team to defeat in its season opener Friday night at Brown Field against Belmont, snapping a tie as the Bruins came out with the 2-1 victory.
“To me, we have to accept tonight’s result and it’s our responsibility that we gave those goals away, but it’s not going to deter from what positives came out of the match,” said Crusader head coach John Marovich. “I thought all 18 players that got on contributed something in a very positive way. Our attacking third was interesting, but our final pass and final touch were off and we didn’t get enough on goal. We have to take tonight as a lesson in making good decisions in dealing with counters, move on to the next game and keep going forward with the really good things we did tonight.”
After a scoreless first half in which the Crusaders held the best of the run of play and had a 9-5 advantage in shots over the Bruins, it was Belmont which cracked the scoreboard first. Tara Austin sent in a long lead pass which Belicia Mendiola ran onto first, beating the Valpo goalkeeper and chipping it over her head inside the right-hand post to give the Bruins the 1-0 edge.
Valpo threatened immediately and repeatedly to even up the match, earning a number of corner kicks over the next 10 minutes. The Crusaders also saw a nice move around a couple of defenders in the 55th minute from junior Rita Craven (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) lead to a shot from 12 yards by junior Sarrah Ludwig (Downers Grove, Ill./South) that went just high in an attempt to equalize.
Eventually, it would be Ludwig who found the back of the net to even up the match at one goal apiece. Freshman Grace Rogers (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury) took a corner kick in the 62nd minute from the right side and sent it into the middle of the box. Ludwig took it from eight yards out and sent it through a crowd of players into the back of the net to make it a 1-1 game.
With the clock ticking towards the 90-minute mark, the opener looked destined for overtime, but that would not be the case. A miscue on the back line for the Crusaders led to Mendiola gaining possession and letting a shot go from 45 yards. Crusader goalkeeper Sydney Galvez-Daley (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick [Creighton]) had come out of the box looking to play the ball and backpedaled into the box in position to try to stop the shot, but it squirted through her arm and into the back of the net with just 2:53 to play for the deciding goal.
The Crusaders lost on Friday despite owning a 17-9 advantage in shot attempts. Both sides put five shots on goal, with Galvez-Daley making three saves in her first collegiate match. Lindsey Espe made four saves to earn the win for Belmont (1-0-0).
Valparaiso (0-1-0) returns to action on Brown Field on Sunday afternoon as it hosts IUPUI at 1 p.m. The game can be heard live on WVUR, (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) and online at ValpoAthletics.com, which will also have a link for live stats.