Valparaiso (4-6-2, 1-2-0 MVC)
Saturday, Oct. 13 - Missouri State (7-6-1, 1-1-1 MVC) - 7 p.m.
This Week in Valpo Soccer: Coming off clean sheets in each of its last two matches, the Valparaiso University women’s soccer team looks to extend its shutout streak in a key Missouri Valley Conference matchup against Missouri State at Brown Field on Saturday night. Free scarves will be handed out to the first 200 fans in attendance.
Previously: Valpo battled UIC to a scoreless draw in its final non-conference match of the year in mid-week action last week, and then didn’t let a weather-related postponement affect it, coming out and scoring a pair of first-half goals in a 2-0 win at Illinois State.
Looking Ahead: Three matches in nine days close out the regular season for Valpo, starting with a match next Wednesday, Oct. 17, on Brown Field against Loyola. The Brown and Gold will then turn around and make the quick trip to UNI for a Saturday afternoon matchup.
Following the Brown and Gold: Saturday night’s match will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Live stats will be available as well, with links for all the live coverage available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds an 95-78-29 (.542) record both overall and with Valpo in his 11th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. Just the third head coach in program history, Marovich holds Valpo’s all-time records for victories and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Saturday night marks just the fifth meeting in the all-time series between Valpo and Missouri State. The two sides met three times when Valpo was an affiliate member of the MVC in the late 1990s, with the Bears winning all three. Last year, Valpo traveled to Springfield for its first MVC match as a full-fledged member and earned a dramatic 1-0 victory, as Kelsey Jahn found the back of the net with 27 seconds to play.
Valpo Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll: Valpo was picked to finish in sixth place in the MVC preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s head coaches. Valpo totaled 24 points in the preseason polling. Loyola picked up five first-place votes en route to topping the poll, while Missouri State (two first-place votes) and UNI (one first-place vote) were tabbed second and third, respectively.
Looking Back at 2017: Valpo is coming off of a 9-10-0 record in 2017 and posted a 3-4-0 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play, good for a tie for fifth place. Cory Griffith was a First Team All-MVC selection and earned Third Team All-Region honors after matching Valpo’s single-season record with 11 goals scored. Five Valpo players in all received postseason recognition from the MVC, as Sydney Griffin, Kelsey Jahn and Grace Rogers were Honorable Mention All-Conference and Keegan Maris earned a spot on the conference’s All-Freshman Team.
Finding the Back of the Net: Needing an MVC win heading into Monday morning’s match at Illinois State, a pair of Valpo players picked a good time to score their respective first career goals. Senior Caitlyn Oliver, appearing in her 49th career match, scored the eventual match-winner in the 29th minute for the first points of her career. Junior Julia Lehnen, making her 18th appearance in the Brown and Gold, registered the insurance tally in the 41st minute.
Kez Says No: Sophomore goalkeeper Kezia Gesell was up to the task in Monday’s win over Illinois State, saving a career-best 12 shots in the shutout of the Redbirds. The 12 saves was the most by a Valpo goalkeeper since Kristen Manski made 13 saves in a scoreless draw with Wright State on Oct. 14, 2012. Gesell, who earned her second career clean sheet, has now allowed one goal or fewer in six of her seven starts this year and saw her GAA drop to 0.99, good for second in The Valley.
More Weather Issues: Valpo’s match at Illinois State was pushed until Monday by weather and field conditions, but it’s nothing new for the program to deal with weather-related issues. It is the fourth time this year weather has affected one of Valpo’s matches - previously, Valpo had a match with Bowling Green canceled, the start time for its match at Belmont pushed back four hours, and a match against Purdue Fort Wayne delayed pregame nearly two hours.
Plenty of Chances: While Valpo has scored just 11 goals through its first 12 matches this season, it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Valpo is averaging 13.75 shots per match, totaling 165 shot attempts so far this year - 81 of which have been on goal. Valpo is out-shooting its opponents by two shots per match and has only been out-shot by its opponents in three of 12 matches.
Multiple Match-Winners: Senior Ava Porlier has made both of her goals this season count, as she tallied the match-winning goals in Valpo’s wins over Green Bay and IUPUI - both of which came in the final 10 minutes of regulation. Prior to this year, Porlier had scored in just one match in her career - a two-goal game against Western Michigan in 2016.
The Record-Setting Performance: Senior Cory Griffith broke Valpo’s single-match record by scoring an NCAA D-I season-high four goals in the win over Robert Morris, carrying Valpo to a 4-2 victory. She scored all four of her goals in a 28-minute stretch spanning the two halves, netting a first-half perfect hat trick before closing out her scoring with a 48th-minute goal. Griffith, who is the only player in Valpo history with multiple hat tricks during her career and also broke the program’s single-match record for points, now owns Valpo’s career match-winning goals record with 11.
Bringing in the Honors: With her record-setting performance against Robert Morris came a pair of accolades for Griffith. She was named the MVC Offensive Player of the Week - her first weekly award from a league office since being named Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 31, 2016. Griffith was also named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week, the first Valpo player to be represented on the 11-player weekly squad since the website’s inception.
Iron Woman: Two matches last week meant that Ali Quillen saw 200 minutes of action, going the full 110 in the draw with UIC and 90 on Monday morning at Illinois State. Quillen has now played 1,128 minutes this season and has not come off the park in any of Valpo’s 12 matches. Quillen has now gone the distance in 46 of 50 career matches and is currently on a streak of 1,765 consecutive minutes played.
Making the Step Up: Valpo faced a giant step up in conference competition last season as it made the move from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference. The Crusaders jumped from the nation’s 28th-ranked league in 2016 to the nation’s 12th-ranked conference in 2017. The average team RPI in the MVC in 2017 was 85 spots better than the average team RPI in the Horizon League the previous year. This upgrade in competition allowed Valpo to finish the 2017 campaign 57 spots higher in the RPI despite posting the same win-loss record as the previous season.