Valparaiso (2-3-3, 0-0-1 Horizon)
Crusaders hit road to take on Penguins
Saturday, Sept. 26 – 6 p.m. – at Youngstown State (5-5-0, 0-1-0 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University women’s soccer team hits the road for the first time in Horizon League action this weekend, as the Crusaders travel to take on Youngstown State Saturday night.
Previously: Valpo opened the Horizon League slate with a fixture that was delayed 24 hours, drawing with Wright State last Saturday evening, 1-1. The Crusaders’ scheduled contest Sunday versus Indiana State was canceled following the team’s postponement with the Raiders.
Following the Crusaders: This weekend’s match will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com. Over the course of the 2015 season, seven home matches will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, while WVUR, Valpo’s student radio station, will also be broadcasting select matches.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds a 68-48-27 record both overall and with Valpo in his eighth season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. Just the third head coach in program history, Marovich has the best winning percentage (.570) ever at Valpo, and ranks second in total victories, just 10 wins shy of the top spot.
Series Notes: Valpo owns a commanding 10-1-3 advantage in the all-time series over Youngstown State, including a 1-0 win against the Penguins last season on Brown Field. That fixture was scoreless through regulation before Grace Rogers scored in the 100th minute with the golden goal.
Scouting the Opposition: Youngstown State sits at .500 on the season entering the weekend with a 5-5-0 record. The Penguins fell to Northern Kentucky in their Horizon League opener, 3-1. Eight different YSU players have combined for the side’s 11 goals, while Katie Montgomery and Elizabeth Balgoyen have combined to post a 1.29 GAA in goal.
Crusaders Picked Atop Preseason Poll: The Crusaders were a unanimous choice to repeat atop the league table in 2015, according to preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. Valpo received all nine possible first-place votes, as head coaches were not allowed to rank their own team, to finish with 81 points. Oakland received the remaining first-place vote and was ranked second with 63 points, narrowly edging out Detroit with 60 points.
Looking Back at 2014: Last season’s Crusader squad was a record-setting side across the board, posting a 14-2-4 record, their 10th winning campaign in the last 11 years. The 14 wins marked a new program record, and the team set new marks for winning streak (12 matches) and unbeaten streak (18 matches) as well. The 2014 Valpo side became just the third squad in Horizon League history to post a perfect 8-0-0 record in regular season league play, as the Crusaders swept through the regular season and the tournament as well. Defensively, the squad set a new program best, surrendering just nine goals, while Sydney Galvez-Daley set new individual records for shutouts (12), wins (14) and GAA (0.43).
Working Extra Time: For the first time in program history, the Crusader women’s soccer team has seen five consecutive matches go past 90 minutes. Starting with the game at Belmont on Sept. 4, each of the last five contests has gone into at least the second overtime period, with three lasting the full 110 minutes. Valpo, which is 1-1-3 in those five matches, had previously gone extra time in three straight fixtures on two occasions.
Plenty of Chances: While Valpo has scored just three goals over its last three games, it hasn’t been for lack of trying, as the Crusaders have generated plenty of scoring opportunities. Two Fridays ago against EWU, the Crusaders tallied 13 shot attempts, 10 on goal. Then, taking on Bowling Green on the 13th, Valpo bombarded the Falcons’ defense over and over again, finishing the contest with 32 shots, 22 of which were on frame. The 32 shots marked the fifth-most in a single match in program history, while the 22 shots on goal were third-most in program history. Last time out versus Wright State, Valpo finished with 20 shots, 11 on goal. Over the three matches, the Crusaders have attempted 29 corner kicks as well.
Craven Moves Towards Goal Chart: Senior Rita Craven finds herself just one goal shy of Valpo’s all-time top-10 after finding the back of the net last time out against Wright State. Craven now has 12 career goals, one away from matching Jackie Kondratko for 10th-most in Crusader history. Craven’s four goals tie her for team-high honors with April Cronin and are tied for third in the Horizon League.
Cronin Tallies Another Goal: Junior April Cronin continued her goal-scoring ways two matches back, finding the back of the net for the game-tying tally in the 53rd minute against Bowling Green. Cronin is tied for the Crusader lead and third in the league with four goals on the season. With 14 career goals, the junior is already tied for eighth in Valpo history and is just one goal shy of a tie for sixth position.
Academic Success: The Valparaiso women’s soccer team has been not only strong on the field, but also in the classroom in its history and has continued that tradition. Earlier this week, the Crusaders were awarded the NSCAA Team Academic Award, presented to programs with a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or better for the 2014-15 academic year, for the 13th consecutive year. Last year, Valpo posted a team GPA of 3.52.
Craven Back For More: Senior midfielder Rita Craven returns for her final season already the most decorated player in program history. Craven was named as one of 28 players to the preseason MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, the first Crusader ever to earn a spot on the watch list for collegiate soccer’s most prestigious award. Last year, Craven became the first player in Valpo history to earn All-American honors, as she was named an NSCAA Third Team All-American. In addition, she was an NSCAA First Team Scholar All-American, as well as the Horizon League’s Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year.
More Honorees Return: Craven is far from the only player to receive honors for her work last season returning in 2015 for Valpo, however. All four of the Crusaders’ NSCAA All-Region honorees are back this year, as senior Jenny Fassbinder and juniors Cronin and Shelby Oelschlager were all Second Team All-Region choices. Both Fassbinder and Oelschlager started all 20 games on defense last year, while Cronin led the Crusaders with nine goals scored. Galvez-Daley is back as well, a Second Team All-League pick by the league and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year as chosen by College Sports Madness, while Vanesa Abad (6 goals, 1 assist) returns for her sophomore season after being named the Horizon League Freshman of the Year last year. In addition, Morgan Manzke – the 2013 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year – returns as well after using last season as an injury redshirt year.