A goal in the fourth minute proved to be the difference in Horizon League play on Wednesday afternoon at Eastgate Field, as Valparaiso dropped a 1-0 decision to Milwaukee on the early tally. The defeat was the first at home for the Crusaders this season in six matches.
The sides traded corner kicks in the early going before the game's lone marker crossed the goal line. On a push forward, the Panthers' Kelly Lewers sent in a cross from the left along the ground. Inside the box, Helen Steinhauser was there to finish inside the near post to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
The Crusaders dominated the action most of the first half, not allowing a Panther shot for the final half-hour of the period while tallying five shot attempts during that time frame. Valpo's best chance came off a corner kick in the 39th minute, as senior Catherine Terrell (Brighton, Mich./Brighton) had an effort from the top of the box. But a Milwaukee defender got her leg on the shot, which looked destined for the upper-left corner of the goal, and deflected it out harmlessly over the end line.
"I think giving up a goal in the first five minutes certainly changed the complexion of the game," said Crusader head coach John Marovich. "We were not sharp in the opening minutes and gave something away, but I felt like once we got past the first 15 minutes, we put some things together and got some opportunities going into the half."
Valpo continued to control the game early in the second half, picking up three shots within the first ten minutes while having the better of possession. But the Crusaders were unable to find the back of the net, and could not string together anything in the attacking third over the final half-hour as Milwaukee closed out the game.
The sides ended the match even at eight shots apiece, with two of the Panthers' efforts going on goal as compared to one for Valpo. Junior Kristen Manski (Saint Charles, Ill./North) made one save for the Crusaders, while her counterpart, Jamie Forbes, stopped two shots to earn the clean sheet.
"I felt like we had things sorted out coming out of halftime, but unfortunately we weren't able to connect in the attacking third," said Marovich. "Give Milwaukee credit, they were able to kill the game. This is the way the Horizon League is going to be every night, because everyone has the ability to score and then defend a lead. It's getting on the board first, and tonight Milwaukee did that. We have to come out refocused on Saturday for another league game against Detroit."
Valparaiso (7-4-1, 1-1-0 Horizon) has a quick turnaround for its next home game at Eastgate Field as the Crusaders host Detroit in league play on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Live stats for the match will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.