For the second straight season and third time in the program's history Valparaiso is headed to the Mid-Continent Conference championship match as the Crusaders defeated Southern Utah 2-0 in the semifinals on Friday evening in Tulsa, Okla.
With the triumph, Valpo has set a new school record for victories in a season with 11, surpassing the win totals of the 2001 and 2004 teams.
Emily King (Colona, Ill./United Township H.S.) scored both goals, giving her nine for the season and 19 for her career, moving her into second place on Valpo's all-time scoring list, while Dana McGlone (Littleton, Colo./Heritage H.S.) drew assists on both tallies.
King, a Mid-Con First Team selection and four-time All-Conference pick, put Valpo on the scoreboard early in the first half, taking a corner kick out of the air from McGlone and beating Thunderbird keeper Holly Davis at the 9:15 mark. She added what would be the insurance goal just before halftime. Her shot just snuck past a sliding Davis at 41:55 to give Valpo the advantage it would need.
Erin Murray (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley H.S.), another Mid-Con First Team selection, notched her fifth shutout of the year, making ten saves. She now has 11 career blankings, increasing her school record total. Davis made six saves for the Thunderbirds.
The Crusaders outshot Southern Utah 15-12 for the match but the Thunderbirds held the advantage 10-8 on goal. Valpo won the match's only four corner kicks.
Valpo had dropped its regular season meeting against Southern Utah (7-4-6) 1-0 last Saturday in Cedar City, Utah, but now improves to 5-1 all-time against the Thunderbirds.
The Brown and Gold (11-7-1) will face Oakland (9-7-1), the tournament's top seed and team the Crusaders shared the regular season title with on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. for the Mid-Con title in Tulsa. Valpo is looking to avenge a regular season lost to the Golden Grizzlies 2-1 at Eastgate Field back on October 21.
The Crusaders and Golden Grizzlies have met twice previously in Mid-Con Tournament play, with Valpo winning a semifinal match in 1999 and Oakland posting a win in the 2002 semis.
Sunday's match will air live on WVUR (95.1-FM) and www.valpo.edu/athletics.