Valparaiso (5-5-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Crusaders open Valley play to conclude road swing
Saturday, Sept. 23 - 8:30 p.m. – Springfield, Mo. - at Missouri State (4-7-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University women's soccer team opens Missouri Valley Conference play this weekend as it travels to Springfield, Mo. to take on Missouri State. It marks the start of the Crusaders' fourth season of MVC action, as the women's soccer program was previously an affiliate member of the conference from 1996 through 1998.
Previously: Valpo was unable to break onto the scoresheet last weekend in a pair of road matches, falling 1-0 at Western Michigan and 2-0 at Toledo.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders conclude non-conference play next Thursday evening at Brown Field as they host Chicago State before turning around for a Saturday night fixture at Drake.
Following the Crusaders: This weekend's match at Missouri State will have live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds an 87-67-27 (.555) 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: The Crusaders and Bears have not met on the pitch since 1998, as all three previous meetings came when Valpo was an affiliate member of the MVC. Missouri State owns a 3-0-0 advantage, including a 2-1 victory in extra time in Springfield on Oct. 9, 1998 in the last matchup.
Scouting the Opposition: The Bears open their conference opener at 4-7-0 overall, most recently falling 3-2 in double overtime to Tulsa. Picked seventh in the MVC in the conference's preseason poll, Missouri State is led offensively by Mary Disidore, who has tallied four goals and two assists on the season. Kaitlin Maxwell has seen about 80% of the time in goal this year and owns a 1.67 GAA with three clean sheets.
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. The highlight of the Crusaders' previous tenure in the conference was the play of goalkeeper Amy Cavanaugh, who set a school and conference record which still stands today with 224 saves during the 1997 season.
Start On the Right Foot: Valpo has been strong in recent years to open league play, earning positive results in five of its last six league openers. The Crusaders have posted a 4-1-1 record over the last six years to kick off league action, including a win in last year's league opener at Cleveland State. Valpo has also earned all three points each of the last three years in its first conference road matchup.
Feast or Famine: When the Crusaders' offense has been clicking this season, it has been on all cylinders, as Valpo has scored 13 goals over the five games it has found the back of the net - an average of 2.6 goals per game. But the Crusaders have also been shut out five times in their 10 matches on the season. Valpo is 5-0-0 when scoring at least once, but 0-5-0 when being shut out.
Easy As One, Two, Three: Junior Cory Griffith scored her first career hat trick in the Crusaders' win over Fort Wayne on Sept. 10. The hat trick was the sixth in program history and just the second since September of 2005. Griffith's three goals 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 the win over Fort Wayne. 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.
Claiming Awards: Valpo has earned five total weekly awards from the MVC office 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.
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.