Valparaiso (4-2-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Crusaders kick off stretch of five straight road matches
Friday, Sept. 8 - 6 p.m. CT – Dayton, Ohio - at Wright State (3-3-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Sunday, Sept. 10 - noon CT – Fort Wayne, Ind. – at Fort Wayne (0-5-0, 0-0-0 Summit)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University women's soccer team hits the road for the start of a stretch of five consecutive road matches this weekend, heading to Wright State on Friday evening and Fort Wayne on Sunday afternoon.
Previously: Valpo put together another pair of winning efforts at home last weekend, coming from behind to defeat Eastern Illinois in dramatic fashion, 3-2 (ot), before posting a 1-0 victory over Belmont.
Looking Ahead: Valpo continues road play next weekend with a Friday (Sept. 15) afternoon match at Western Michigan and a Sunday (Sept. 17) match at Toledo.
Following the Crusaders: Both matches this weekend will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com. In addition, the Wright State match will be broadcast live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, while the Fort Wayne match will have a pay video stream.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds an 86-64-27 (.562) 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: Wright State - Valpo is just 2-10-4 all-time against the Raiders, picking up victories in 2009 and 2014. WSU claimed the most recent meeting, 2-1 in Dayton in October of last season. In a scheduling quirk, this will actually mark the fourth straight year Valpo has played at Wright State (2014 and 2016, regular season; 2015, league tournament)
Fort Wayne - On the flip side, the Crusaders have dominated the all-time series with the Mastodons. Valpo owns a 12-2-1 record in the series, including victories in each of the last nine meetings. Last season, Valpo claimed a 2-0 victory on a rainy night at Brown Field, with April Cronin and Ali Quillen scoring for the Crusaders.
Scouting the Opposition: Wright State - The Raiders enter Friday night's match with a 3-3-0 record on the year, most recently dropping a 2-0 decision at #6 West Virginia. Niki Romero and Sarah Colvin have each scored two of WSU's seven goals so far this year, while Maddie Jewell and Miranda Thomas have split time in goal, combining for a 1.45 GAA.
Fort Wayne - The Mastodons have struggled to open the 2017 campaign, entering the weekend at 0-5-0 with a Friday afternoon match at Eastern Illinois preceding Valpo's trip to Fort Wayne on Sunday. Kendall Quinn has tallied the Mastodons' lone goal on the season, while Haley Lydon has played every minute in goal and owns a 1.80 GAA.
Ranked Regionally: The Crusaders maintained a spot in the United Soccer Coaches Midwest regional poll this week, coming in at #15 in the third weekly poll of the season. Valpo has been regionally ranked in each of the year's first three polls.
Defending the Home Field: Valpo improved to a perfect 4-0-0 on the season at Brown Field with its pair of victories last weekend over EIU and Belmont. It matches the program's best start to a season at home since 2005, when the Crusaders won each of their first six home fixtures. The 2008 Valpo side also won its first four home matches of the year as well.
Claiming Awards: For the second time in the first three weeks of the season, Valpo claimed multiple MVC weekly awards this week. This time, Sydney Griffin was tabbed Offensive Player of the Week while Kezia Gesell earned Defensive Player of the Week accolades. Previously, following the season's first weekend, Griffin had been named the conference's Offensive Player and Newcomer of the Week and Drew Moulton had been named Defensive Player of the Week.
Finding the Back of the Net: Griffin continued her hot start to the season with two more goals in a pair of Valpo wins last weekend. She opened the scoring in the 13th minute of Valpo's eventual overtime win over Eastern Illlinois, and then on Sunday scored the game's lone goal late in the first half of a 1-0 win over Belmont. Through her first six games as a Crusader, Griffin has scored four goals - two of which have been match-winners.
Standing Strong In Goal: Gesell stood out Sunday in her first career victory and her first career shutout, blanking a Belmont side which had scored 11 goals over the season's first three games. Gesell made nine saves to earn the clean sheet, seven of which came with the score still 0-0 and a number of which were of the highlight-reel variety. The nine saves were the most by a Valpo keeper in a shutout since October of 2012.
A Dramatic Finish: The Crusaders gave the home fans their money's worth on Friday night, as Tahelah Noel scored the equalizer against Eastern Illinois with just 75 seconds remaining in regulation. It was the latest goal to force overtime by a Valpo player in program history. Then, Cory Griffith scored the golden goal just 39 seconds into extra time - the earliest overtime game-winner by a Crusader since September of 2006.
Four-Point Weekend For Griffith: Griffith contributed to three of the Crusaders' four goals in the pair of victories last weekend. Her header off a corner led to Noel's equalizer against EIU, and she followed by scoring the golden goal early in extra time. Then, in Sunday's win over Belmont, Griffith earned the primary assist on the Crusaders' lone goal in the 1-0 victory. The junior is now tied for seventh in program history with six career match-winning goals.
Hitting the Road: After playing four of its first six matches of the season at Brown Field, the Crusaders hit the road for five consecutive road matches and won't return home until a Sept. 28 non-conference matchup with Chicago State. Valpo last played five straight road contests to open the 2015 season, but prior to that, had not played five or more consecutive matches away from home since the 2000 season.
All-Tournament Honorees: A trio of Crusaders represented Valpo on the Owl Classic All-Tournament Team. Juniors Natalia Kontul and Kelsey Jahn, as well as sophomore Adi Johnson, were named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances against FGCU and Florida Atlantic. It was the first All-Tournament accolade of their collegiate career for all three Crusaders.
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.
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.