It was a successful Senior Day Sunday afternoon at Brown Field for the Valparaiso women’s soccer team, as the Crusaders honored the six members of their senior class prior to the game and then went on to take down Loyola, 3-1, in their final non-league game of the season. Senior Shelby Oelschlager (Glendale, Ariz./Mountain Ridge) recorded the first multi-goal game of her career, including the match-winner in the 60th minute.
"I thought today was a great team effort," said Crusader head coach John Marovich. "We really settled the game about midway through the first half, and got some really good performances all the way across the board. I'm pleased with the way we responded after giving up an early goal, coming back and scoring three unanswered - I feel that's the best thing we can take away from the game, that we didn’t give up another goal after we started to score."
Prior to the game, Oelschlager joined fellow seniors Taylor Colliau (South Pasadena, Calif./South Pasadena), Rita Craven (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North), Jenny Fassbinder (Hudson, Wis./Hudson), Sydney Galvez-Daley (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick [Creighton]) and Sarrah Ludwig (Downers Grove, Ill./South) in being recognized before their final non-league home game. The group of six, who were instrumental in helping lead Valpo to its best season in program history last year, all earned spots in the starting eleven on Sunday, with Colliau making her first career start.
Once the game got underway, though, it would be the Ramblers who struck first. Less than seven minutes into the game, Loyola’s Taylor Lambouris took a corner kick. The Crusaders looked to clear with a header, but the effort only made it to the edge of the 18-yard box, where the Ramblers’ Jessica Bean brought it down and then took a shot on a short hop which rifled into the upper-left corner of the goal to give Loyola a 1-0 lead.
The Crusaders would level the match in the 34th minute, taking full advantage of their only corner kick of the first half. Redshirt freshman Jordon Tindell (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) took a corner from the left side and sent it into the center of the box, right about five yards out. The corner found Oelschlager in stride, and the senior took care of the rest, heading it home for her second goal of the season to make it 1-1, where it would stay into halftime.
Goals on either side of the hour mark would be more than enough for Valpo to close out the victory. In the 60th minute, sophomore Grace Rogers (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury) hit a free kick from 40 yards out on the right side towards the far post. Oelschlager made an unmarked run, met Rogers’ kick just a couple yards from goal and finished with ease for the eventual match-winner. Oelschlager, who just 15 days ago hadn’t scored a goal in her Crusader career, now has three goals over the past five games and became the second Valpo player in that span to record a multi-goal game.
Junior April Cronin (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) barely let the dust settle from Oelschlager’s second tally before adding some insurance to the Crusaders’ lead. Redshirt sophomore Vanesa Abad (Barrington, Ill./Lake Zurich [Ohio State]) fed Cronin at the top-left corner of the 18. Cronin turned her defender and finished with aplomb, sending her strike inside the far post to make it 3-1 Valpo. For Cronin, it marked her seventh goal of the season, tied for eighth-most in a single season in Crusader history. The goals by Oelschlager and Cronin came just 52 seconds apart as well, the fourth-shortest spans between goals all-time at Valpo and the quickest two goals since 2009.
"I was really happy today with our set piece work, scoring goals off a corner and off a free kick," said Marovich. "Both set pieces had quality services from Jordon and Grace. It was nice to see Shelby find the back of the net twice, especially coming off of set pieces, because she’s worked so hard at those. It was also good to see April, for the second game in a row, turn a defender and finish to the back post."
Loyola (6-6-3) finished Sunday’s contest with a 15-11 advantage in the shots category, but the Crusaders put seven shots on goal to the Ramblers’ five. Both Galvez-Daley and her Loyola counterpart, Maddie Ford, made four saves.
Valparaiso (5-5-3) will close out the regular season with a stretch of four Horizon League matches, the first of which comes up at Brown Field this Saturday night, Oct. 17, against Green Bay. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m., and the match will be available live on ESPN3.com. Links for live audio and statistics can be accessed via ValpoAthletics.com.