The Valparaiso women’s soccer team found the back of the net three times in the second half, overcoming a 1-0 halftime deficit to earn a 3-1 road victory over Eastern Illinois at Charleston, Ill. Friday afternoon. With the win, the Crusaders extended their unbeaten streak to seven straight contests.
Valpo’s seven-match undefeated streak (3-0-4) is its longest since a stretch of seven consecutive matches spanning the end of the 2011 and beginning of the 2012 seasons. It also marks the Crusaders’ longest single-season unbeaten streak since they won seven straight fixtures late in the 2009 campaign.
While the Crusaders’ unbeaten streak continued on Friday, their shutout streak would come to an end, as the Panthers found the back of the net in the 31st minute on a header re-direct by Lindsey Marino. The shutout streak came to a close at 466 minutes, and the goal was the first Valpo had surrendered in the run of play since the season’s opening match.
“We did a nice job of keeping the ball in the first half, but didn't quite find the frame as we seemed to rush things once in the attacking third,” said Crusader head coach John Marovich on the team’s first three-quarters of an hour.
But the one-goal deficit wouldn’t face the Crusaders, who scored three second-half goals for the come-from-behind victory. The equalizer came in the 58th minute on a play started by sophomore April Cronin (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook), who attacked the left flank, turned the corner and got to the end line. Cronin spotted redshirt freshman Vanesa Abad (Barrington, Ill./Lake Zurich [Ohio State]) filling the slot and hit her for a first-time finish to the left post. For Abad, it marked her team-best third goal of the season.
Less than 10 minutes later, Valpo took the lead for good. Junior Rita Craven (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) got past a defender on the right flank and sent in a cross towards the far post. On the receiving end of the pass was Cronin, in perfect position for a header to make it 2-1 Crusaders.
The Crusaders would not rest on their laurels, securing the win with an insurance tally in the 81st minute. Sophomore Robin Wenzel (Woodstock, Ill./Marian Central Catholic) won a battle for the ball and earned a one-on-one opportunity with EIU goalkeeper Emily Hinton. Wenzel finished inside the back post for her first goal of the year, making it 3-1 Valpo.
“In the second half, we really dictated the tempo of the play and were able to stretch the width of the park,” said Marovich. “This allowed our athletes to be more patient in the attacks up the flanks, opening up more seams in front of the goal for finishes. I am proud how our team responded in the second half to some adversity and displayed urgency in the final third. The timing and shape of the runs into the box today were outstanding in the second half.”
Valpo dominated Friday’s action, registering 20 shots against eight for Eastern Illinois (0-7-1) and also picking up six corner kicks while not surrendering a single one. Redshirt sophomore Sydney Galvez-Daley (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick [Creighton]) had to make just one save to earn the victory.
Valparaiso (3-1-4) returns to the pitch to open Horizon League play on Wednesday evening, Sept. 24 as the Crusaders host Oakland on Brown Field. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen live on the Horizon League Network. Links for the live video and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.