Valparaiso is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program's history as the Crusaders defeated Oakland 3-1 on Sunday afternoon in Tulsa, Okla. to claim its first Mid-Continent Conference Tournament title.
Emily King (Colona, Ill./United Township H.S.), the tournament's Most Valuable Player, scored twice and Courtney Rahrig (Centennial, Colo./J.K. Mullen H.S.) notched the match-winner as the Crusaders were victorious for the first time in three finals appearances. Valpo also avenged its regular season loss to the Golden Grizzlies and beat Oakland for just the third time in 11 meetings all-time against its conference foe.
?This is the biggest moment in our program's history," head coach Stephen Anthony said. ?I'm so excited for our players and their opportunity to continue playing next week."
After a scoreless first half, King put Valpo on the board 9:13 into the second stanza, dribbling in and scoring from 20 yards out for her third goal of the tournament and tenth of the season.
Oakland tied it less than nine minutes later as Kristi Vandeberghe found the back of the net with Lia Williamson earning the assist at 61:59.
Rahrig made the most of her only goal of the season, notching her tally with 16:21 remaining in the contest from 25 yards out. For the sophomore, who was also named to the Mid-Con All-Tournament Team, it was just her second career goal playing out of the backfield.
King gave Valpo its insurance goal with 13:11 left in the match scoring on a free kick from 22 yards out to set a new Mid-Con Tournament record with her fourth goal on the weekend. Her 11th tally of the season also tied the Crusaders' single season mark which Lori Moore established during the 2000 campaign. King now has 21 goals for her career. She also broke the single season record for points. The senior has now tallied 27 points surpassing Moore's total of 24 in 2000 and 2001.
?The way we battled back after allowing that tying goal shows the character of this team," Anthony, the Mid-Con co-Coach of the Year said.
Erin Murray (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley H.S.) made three saves in the victory, earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team, while Oakland's Jessica Howard turned away four Valpo shot attempts.
Valpo outshot the Golden Grizzlies 16-13 for the match, 10-5 in the second stanza. The Crusaders also earned six corner kicks while Oakland (9-8-1) tallied three.
Dana McGlone (Littleton, Colo./Heritage H.S.) also earned All-Tournament Team honors after tallying a pair of assists in Valpo's 2-0 semifinal victory over Southern Utah on Friday night.
Valpo (12-7-1) has already set a single season record for victories in a year. The Crusaders will learn where they are heading for the NCAA Tournament on Monday afternoon when the field of 64 is announced live on ESPNews between 4 and 4:30 p.m. The team will gather at BuffaLouies in Valparaiso to watch the selection show.
The First Round will be held Friday, November 11 on campus sites with the Second Round scheduled for Sunday, November 13.