Valparaiso (2-0-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Crusaders look to maintain unblemished record in Florida
Friday, Aug. 25 - 4 p.m. CT – Boca Raton, Fla. - vs. Florida Gulf Coast (1-1-0, 0-0-0 ASUN)
Sunday, Aug. 27 - 12:30 p.m. CT – Boca Raton, Fla. – at Florida Atlantic (1-1-0, 0-0-0 Conference USA)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: After winning back-to-back matches in the opening weekend of the season, the Valparaiso University women's soccer team flies down to the Sunshine State this weekend for the Owl Classic. The Crusaders will take on Florida Gulf Coast on Friday afternoon before facing host Florida Atlantic on Sunday afternoon.
Previously: Valpo claimed a pair of shutout victories at Brown Field to kick off the 2017 season, taking down Grace College in the season opener, 3-0, and then defeating IUPUI, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon. Junior Sydney Griffin led the way offensively with a five-point weekend.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders return home to Brown Field for two more matches in the season's third weekend of competition. Valpo will host Eastern Illinois on Friday, Sept. 1 and welcome Belmont on Sunday, Sept. 3.
Following the Crusaders: Both matches this weekend will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com. A pay video stream is also available via FAU's website.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds an 84-62-27 (.564) record both overall and with Valpo in his 10th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. Just the third head coach in program history, Marovich became the winningest coach in program history midway through last season.
Series Notes: This weekend will mark the Crusaders' first meeting in program history with both FGCU and FAU.
Scouting the Opposition: FGCU - The Eagles enter the second weekend of action at 1-1-0 on the year, defeating Georgia Southern, 3-0, in their season opener before suffering a narrow 2-1 defeat at #4 South Carolina. FGCU has won the ASUN each of the last seven years and is the preseason favorite to extend the streak to eight consecutive seasons.
FAU - The Owls are also 1-1-0 through two matches this season, falling in the season opener to #7 Florida in extra time, 1-0, before rebounding with a 3-1 win over Saint Francis (Pa.). Coming off of a 2016 campaign in which it went 12-8-2 and advanced to the championship match of the Conference USA Tournament, FAU has been picked to finish fourth in the C-USA preseason poll.
Crusaders Picked Fifth in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been chosen to finish in a tie for fifth place in the MVC preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s head coaches. The Crusaders totaled 29 points in the preseason polling to tie UNI for fifth place. Illinois State received all but one first-place vote to top the poll, while Drake picked up the other first-place nod and was second in the polling.
Players of the Week: In its first week as a full-fledged member of The Valley, the Crusaders swept the MVC weekly awards in the opening weekend of the season. Junior Sydney Griffin, in her first season at Valpo after two years at New Hampshire, was named The Valley's Offensive Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week. Griffin tallied a conference-high five points, posting a goal and an assist in the season opener against Grace before tallying the match-winning goal versus IUPUI. She became only the second player in program history to score in each of Valpo's first two matches of the season - only previously accomplished by Lori Moore in 2001.
Meanwhile, junior Drew Moulton earned the start in goal in both matches and posted a pair of clean sheets in goal as the Crusaders shut out both opponents in the opening weekend of play. Moulton needed to make just two saves in the season-opening win over Grace, and then came up with five stops in Sunday's victory over IUPUI - the second-highest effort of her career. The two shutouts were the second and third of Moulton's career.
This marks the first time since Sept. 6, 2005 that the Crusaders have earned multiple Player of the Week honorees in the same week from a conference office.
A Strong Start: Valpo captured a pair of wins via shutout on opening weekend with the victories over Grace (3-0) and IUPUI (2-0). It is just the third time in program history the Crusaders have started a season 2-0-0 (2010, 2012) and with a win over FGCU on Friday, Valpo would be 3-0-0 for the first time ever.
A Dream Debut: Freshman Lauren Torhorst made her first appearance in a Valpo uniform one she'll always remember on Friday night against Grace. Called upon as a substitute in the second half, Torhorst was on the field for just 64 seconds before heading home a goal in the 64th minute.
New Faces Scoring Goals: Valpo's five goals over its first two victories came from a group of four players who entered this year with just one combined goal in a Crusader uniform. Griffin and Torhorst are in their first season with the program, while sophomore Tahelah Noel did not find the back of the net as a freshman. Only senior Jordon Tindell - who scored the match-winner in the season opener versus Grace - had tallied before as a Crusader, and her lone Valpo goal came nearly two full years earlier.
Setting Things Up: All five of Valpo's goals on the opening weekend were assisted tallies - one off a corner kick and the other four from live action. Junior Kelsey Jahn recorded an assist in both games after registering just one assist over her first two seasons. Griffin picked up her first career assist on the match-winner versus Grace, while junior Natalia Kontul delivered the corner kick on Torhorst's goal against the Lancers for her second career assist. The weekend's final goal was assisted by senior Grace Rogers, who now owns nine helpers - one shy of Valpo's all-time top-10 in the category.
Spreading the Action: Plenty of players contributed to the Crusaders' two shutouts on the opening weekend of action. 22 different players saw action over the course of the two matches, all of whom played at least 20 minutes. Only Moulton, along with backs Sydney Gountounas and Ali Quillen, played all 180 minutes over the two wins.
Experience Returns: Among the 18 letterwinners back for the Crusaders in 2017 are eight of last season's 11 most regular starters. The team features plenty of new blood as well, however, as nine players are in their first season at Valpo - seven freshmen and two transfers.
Looking Back at 2016: The Crusaders are coming off of a 9-10-0 record in 2016, including a 5-4-0 mark within Horizon League play – good for a tie for fourth place. April Cronin earned First Team All-League honors as she closed out her stellar career with team highs of eight goals, five assists, and 21 points, departing Valpo second in program history in career goals and points and third in assists. Second Team All-League selection Cory Griffith struck for seven goals and three assists as a sophomore. Five of Griffith’s seven tallies were match-winners, setting a new Valpo single-season record.
Reaching A Milestone: The Crusaders celebrate a quarter-century of competition this fall, as the 2017 campaign is Valpo's 25th season of intercollegiate women's soccer. The Crusaders first took the field on Sept. 4, 1993 at Michigan State.
Valpo In The Valley: The 2017-18 school year is also a significant season for the Valpo athletics department as a whole, as on July 1, Valparaiso University became a member of the Missouri Valley Conference following a decade of membership in the Horizon League. The move to The Valley dovetails nicely with the soccer program's 25-year celebration, as the MVC is celebrating 25 years of women's competition in the conference as well. The women's soccer team is the only program at Valpo to have previously competed in The Valley, as the Crusaders were an affiliate member of the conference from 1996 through 1998.
Griffith Leads the Way: After playing alongside April Cronin last season, junior Cory Griffith will be called upon to lead the Crusader attack in 2017. A preseason All-MVC selection, Griffith is coming off a campaign in which she earned Second Team All-Horizon League accolades, scoring seven goals - five of which were match-winners.
Returning Honorees: Two other players who earned postseason accolades from the Horizon League return in 2017 for the Crusaders as well. Ali Quillen was one of two Crusaders to start all 19 matches in 2016 and led the team in minutes played, earning a spot on the Horizon League All-Freshman Team. She was joined on the All-Freshman Team by Ava Porlier, a midfielder who scored a pair of goals against regionally-ranked Western Michigan last season.