Sophomore Cory Griffith (Lemont, Ill./Providence Catholic) found the back of the net twice in a seven-minute span in the first half and the Valparaiso University women’s soccer team made her brace stand up for a 2-1 win at Northern Kentucky in the regular season finale Friday evening. Griffith set a program single-season record with her fifth match-winning goal of the season, while with the win, Valpo clinched a berth into the Horizon League Championship and will head to Oakland for a Monday night first-round matchup.
How It Happened
- Valpo got on the scoreboard midway through the first half in the 24th minute of action. Freshman Ali Quillen (Beavercreek, Ohio/Beavercreek) sent a cross towards the box from about 35 yards out on the right flank. Senior April Cronin (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) was there to flick it on with her heel to Griffith, who beat NKU goalkeeper Emily Lohmann inside the left post from 15 yards away.
- In the 31st minute, Griffith would complete her brace with the eventual match-winning goal. Junior Grace Rogers (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury) took a corner kick to start the sequence. After the ball bounced around the box for a few seconds, senior Vanesa Abad (Barrington, Ill./Lake Zurich [Ohio State]) gained possession on the end line to the right of goal and passed back to the top of the six. Griffith, situated on the edge of the six-yard box in the center of the field, took the pass and chipped it inside the right-hand post to make it a 2-0 lead.
- NKU cut the lead in half in the 58th minute as Macy Hamblin worked the ball around Crusader goalkeeper Tess Barrett (Tinley Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) to the end line and crossed back across the frame for a tap-in for Katelyn Newton. But the Crusaders held steady in defense the remainder of the game, not surrendering a shot on frame over the final 32 minutes as they clinched their berth into the Horizon League Championship.
Inside the Match
- Griffith set a new program single-season mark with her fifth match-winning goal of the season. All seven of Griffith’s goals have come in the five games she has picked up match-winners, including four goals in Horizon League play.
- Griffith snapped a nine-way tie at four match-winning goals for the program’s single-season record – a mark she shared with Cronin’s 2014 and 2016 seasons entering the night.
- The brace was Griffith’s second of the season, following her two-goal effort earlier this year in a win over New Mexico State, and third of her career. It was also her second two-goal match within league play, as she also tallied two goals last year versus Youngstown State.
- Cronin picked up her fourth helper of the year as she recorded the primary assist on Griffith’s first goal. The assist was the 10th of her career, tying her for fourth-most in program history, and matches Rogers for team-high honors this season with four.
- Quillen recorded her first career assist to go with a goal earlier this year, while Abad’s assist was her second of the season.
- Barrett made three saves to earn the victory on Friday evening – she closed Horizon League play with a 4-3-0 record and an 0.87 GAA, surrendering one goal or fewer in seven of her eight starts.
- Eight of Valpo’s nine Horizon League matches were decided by just one goal.
- Valpo will meet up with Oakland in the Horizon League Championship for the first time since the Golden Grizzlies joined the league prior to the 2013 season.
Thoughts From Head Coach John Marovich
"I thought our players came out with a great attitude tonight and really did a good job implementing our tactical plan, dealing with the pressure that Northern Kentucky brings. Dealing with Macy Hamblin is a tough job, but our players did a great job making things predictable enough in the NKU attack that we were able to deal well with a lot of that pressure."
"Cory scoring her two first-half goals was a result of our ability to be really disciplined in getting the ball out wide and then turning those balls into opportunities inside the 18-yard box. We did a good job creating those first-half chances and Cory was able to find two finishes, which gave us that confidence heading into halftime to figure out how to close the game out with the lead."
"Tonight just showcased the parity and the craziness of the Horizon League - seedings coming down to the final night of play, with overtime goals and wins on the road. It's a testament to our players, battling every night out in league play on the journey to earn a spot in the tournament - they've maintained the right mindset and right attitude over the course of the season. Tonight, I was really proud of our team to get the important road win and not leave our spot up to other results, and now we move on and get ready for the first round of the tournament on Monday night."
The Crusaders (9-9-0) are the fifth seed for the Horizon League Championship, which begins on Monday evening. Valpo finished level with Oakland in a tie for fourth place at 15 points, but the Golden Grizzlies earned the tiebreaker with a head-to-head victory. The two sides will meet up in first-round action in Rochester, Mich. on Monday at 6 p.m. CT. The match can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with links for live video and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.