The Valparaiso University women’s soccer team claimed a 2-0 lead in the first round of the Horizon League Championship Monday night in Rochester Hills, Mich. thanks to goals with three minutes of either side of halftime from freshman Maria Broecker (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester), but Oakland rallied with three second-half goals to send the Crusaders to a 3-2 defeat.
How It Happened
- Valpo got on the board in the 43rd minute thanks to a somewhat unlikely source in Broecker, who had not seen the field for over a month before Monday’s fixture. Freshman Ava Porlier (Downers Grove, Ill./South) kept possession in the attacking third under pressure and poked a ball to senior April Cronin (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) down the right side. Cronin sent a cross in from the right along the ground, and Broecker was there to knock it in from the top of the six-yard box to make it 1-0 Valpo with her first career goal.
- In the 49th minute, it was again the Crusaders finding the back of the net as they doubled their lead. Sophomore Cory Griffith (Lemont, Ill./Providence Catholic) carried the ball down the left and, from the top corner of the 18, sent a ball in towards goal. Broecker was there to corral it and sent a chip over the sliding Oakland goalkeeper inside the right post to make it 2-0 Valpo.
- A goal off a rebound in the 67th minute by Sydney Duggan for the Golden Grizzlies cut Valpo’s advantage in half, but the Crusaders would maintain the lead into the final 10 minutes.
- Heartbreak would strike for Valpo in those final minutes, however. Oakland’s Sierra Grodsinsky leveled the match at 2-2 with a goal in the 83rd minute, and Brooke Miura scored in the 87th minute with the deciding tally.
Inside the Match
- Broecker was the fourth different Crusader to record a brace this season, joining Cronin, Porlier and Griffith – who finished the year with a pair of two-goal efforts.
- Broecker’s two goals on Monday came on her only two shot attempts of the season.
- Cronin’s assist on Broecker’s opening goal was the senior’s team-high fifth of the year – tied for third-most in program history and just one off the single-season record. Cronin closed out her Valpo career with 25 goals (second in program history), 11 assists (tied for third), 61 points (second) and 10 match-winning goals (tied for first).
- Cronin’s 21 points were sixth-most in a single season in program history, while with her assist, Griffith finished the campaign with 17 points – just one shy of Valpo’s single-season top-10.
- Monday’s defeat ended the careers of an octet of Valpo seniors – Cronin, Sydney Galvez-Daley, Robin Wenzel, Kelsie Bolerjack, Krista Carlson, Vanesa Abad, Michelle Mottonen and Danielle DeSciscio.
- While she was sidelined due to injury much of this season, Galvez-Daley finished atop Valpo’s career GAA chart, departing Valpo with a 0.80 GAA. She also posted 14 career clean sheets, fourth-most in program history.
- Freshman Tess Barrett (Tinley Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) posted a 1.17 GAA this season, the eighth-best single-season mark by a Crusader goalkeeper all-time.
- With the loss, the Crusaders fell to 0-5-0 in Horizon League Championship action in road matches since joining the league prior to the 2007 season.
Thoughts From Head Coach John Marovich
“It was a night of tremendous emotional swings. Maria did a great job of coming in off the bench and giving us fresh legs – scoring right before the half and then again right after halftime. Cory hit a ball off the crossbar, which could have really changed the match, but instead we conceded a goal shortly after. These emotional swings take a toll on all the players.”
“Oakland really pushed players forward late to get the equalizer and we struggled to get solid clearance out of our defensive end. Unfortunately, the last nine minutes didn’t end the way we would have hoped, but it will be the fuel as we move forward.”
“It’s a very difficult night to say goodbye to our seniors who have given so much to our program, and I hurt greatly with them. I’m so proud of this group for how they continued to fight, and our locker room tonight just shows how great it is to be a part of the Valpo WSO family.”