This time, it wasn’t one of the usual suspects for the Valparaiso women’s soccer team finding the back of the net. This time, it was freshman defender Grace Rogers (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury) who made her first career goal count, winning the ball in the box off a scramble in the 100th minute and tucking it away for the golden goal in Valparaiso’s 1-0 win over Youngstown State Saturday night at Brown Field.
The win moves the Crusaders to a perfect 4-0-0 in Horizon League action, as Valpo is now three points clear of the rest of the pack at the halfway mark of the league slate. The program record unbeaten streak was extended to 12 straight matches Saturday evening, the last six of those being Crusader victories.
“I thought tonight, we did a nice job in our clearances,” said Crusader head coach John Marovich. “Youngstown State put a lot of balls into the box in the air, and I thought we dealt with that well. The other thing I thought was when they put us under stress tonight, we were really composed – our players handled the pressure with an unbelievable amount of composure, which allowed us to get out and get things done.”
After the match made it through full time scoreless and with the second extra time period looming, the Crusaders were able to find the winner. Erika Schoemann (Calgary, Alberta/Saint Mary’s) sent a free kick from the right side towards the near post around the edge of the six-yard box. On the ensuing scramble, the ball popped straight into the air, where Rogers out-leapt her defender and got just enough of a header on it to send it into the back of the net for the match-winning tally.
“I felt like our change in the second half to move Kristen Warner up top helped us get out and settle into the game a bit more,” said Marovich. “She did a great job helping hold up play and getting us through most of the second half while playing in that position. We know that in league games especially, we have to continue to stay with our process and what we do well, and at the end of the day, a freshman steps up and gets her first career goal – no better situation than to win in overtime.”
Saturday night was a match that Valpo controlled the better part of, out-shooting Youngstown State 13-5 on the night and putting nine shots on goal. But many of the Crusaders’ efforts came from distance, as their efforts from inside the box were thwarted by the Penguin defense. Valpo also earned nine corner kicks over the duration of the match, but were unable to convert on any.
Meanwhile, the Valparaiso defense was as stout as ever in surrendering just five shot attempts to Youngstown State (6-6-2, 2-2-1 Horizon). While Sydney Galvez-Daley (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick [Creighton]) only needed to make one save to earn the clean sheet, her eighth of the season to tie her for third on the Crusader single-season chart, the sophomore came off her line well on a number of other occasions to thwart potential chances. The back line also was key, blocking a couple of Penguin efforts inside the penalty area.
Valparaiso (8-1-4, 4-0-0 Horizon) has a week before its next match, when the Crusaders travel to Dayton to continue Horizon League play at Wright State. Live video through the Horizon League Network and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.