Valparaiso (5-3-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Crusaders continue to rack up the travel miles this weekend
Friday, Sept. 15 - 4 p.m. CT – Kalamazoo, Mich. - at Western Michigan (4-2-0, 0-0-0 MAC)
Sunday, Sept. 17 - noon CT – Toledo, Ohio – at Toledo (2-4-1, 0-0-0 MAC)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University women's soccer team will face a pair of opponents out of the MAC this week as the Crusaders continue their stretch of five straight road matches. Valpo will play at Western Michigan on Friday afternoon before turning around for a Sunday afternoon match at Toledo, its final match before the start of Valley competition.
Previously: Valpo split a pair of road matches last weekend, falling 3-0 at Wright State before scoring four unanswered second-half goals in a 4-1 victory over Fort Wayne.
Looking Ahead: Valpo concludes its road stretch next weekend with the longest trip it will face in MVC play, traveling to Springfield, Mo. to face Missouri State on Saturday night, Sept. 23.
Following the Crusaders: Both matches this weekend will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds an 87-65-27 (.561) 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: Western Michigan - Valpo is just 2-6-0 all-time against WMU. This is actually the second straight season the Crusaders have played in Kalamazoo, as the Broncos earned a 3-2 win in extra time last September despite a two-goal performance from Ava Porlier.
Toledo - The Crusaders are looking for their first win in the all-time series with the Rockets, entering Sunday's match at 0-6-2 in the series. The two sides have not met since a 4-0 Toledo win at Toledo in September of 2005, however.
Scouting the Opposition: Western Michigan - The Broncos enter Friday afternoon's match at 4-2-0 on the year, and are coming off of back-to-back shutout victories over Fort Wayne (1-0) and Youngstown State (3-0). Grace Labadie has been in on four of the Crusaders' eight goals this year, registering three goals and an assist, while Stephanie Heber has played all 559 minutes in goal and boasts a 1.13 GAA.
Toledo - The Rockets are 2-4-1 on the season entering Sunday's match, most recently dropping a 4-0 decision to Notre Dame. Toledo has been out-scored on the year so far, 10-5, with Isa Echeverri contributing two goals and an assist.
Easy As One, Two, Three: Junior Cory Griffith entered last weekend with three career two-goal games for the Crusaders, but topped that for the first time in last Sunday's victory at Fort Wayne, netting a hat trick in the second half. The hat trick was the sixth in program history and just the second since September of 2005.
Moving Up the Charts: Griffith's three goals last time out moved her into Valpo’s all-time top-10 in goals scored, as she now owns 14 career goals, good for a tie for ninth position, while her first goal against the Mastodons was the eventual match-winner, giving her seven career match-winning goals – tied for fourth-most in program history.
Rogers Helps Out: Senior Grace Rogers has been a consistent playmaker for the Crusaders throughout her career, and added two more assists to her ledger in Sunday's win. Rogers is tied for team-high honors with three assists this season, and now owns 11 career assists - tied for third-most in program history and just two shy of Valpo's career record.
Goal Bonanza: Valpo went into the half Sunday at Fort Wayne scoreless, but exploded for four second-half goals in the victory. The Crusaders' four goals were their most in a single game since a 6-0 win at Youngstown State on Sept. 26, 2015. Valpo also struck for four second-half goals in that win over YSU, the only other time since 2006 it has scored four goals in one half of action.
Claiming Awards: Valpo has earned five total weekly awards from the MVC office early on this year. Following the weekend with victories over Eastern Illinois and Belmont, 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.
Hitting the Road: After playing four of its first six matches of the season at Brown Field, the Crusaders are in the midst of a stretch of 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.