Senior Rita Craven (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) put the Valparaiso University women’s soccer team ahead just over a minute into the Crusaders’ Horizon League match against Green Bay at Brown Field Saturday night, and Craven would complete her brace with a wonderful strike midway through the first half as the Crusaders took down the Phoenix, 2-1.
The start of Saturday night’s game was like déjà vu for the Crusaders against the Phoenix. Last year’s regular season matchup saw Valpo go ahead just 32 seconds into the match. This time, it would take double that interval, as junior April Cronin (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) took a corner into the center of the box. Senior Shelby Oelschlager (Glendale, Ariz./Mountain Ridge) touched it down for Craven, who easily found the back of the net with just 64 seconds elapsed – the third-fastest goal to open a match in program history.
With the easy finish out of the way, Craven went for the wonder strike to close out her brace in the 26th minute. Redshirt sophomore Vanesa Abad (Barrington, Ill./Lake Zurich [Ohio State]) set up Craven from 30 yards out, and the senior drilled home the golazo just underneath the crossbar to make it 2-0 Crusaders. For Craven, it marks her second career two-goal game and gives her 14 career goals, tied for ninth-most in Valpo history.
The Crusaders were unable to add a third goal in the first half despite finishing the half with a 14-0 advantage in shots and an 11-0 advantage in corner kicks over the Phoenix. Valpo looked to see out the game in the second half, and nearly did so while maintaining the clean sheet, until a long free kick was nudged inside the post by Green Bay’s Nicole Piette right at the post in the 88th minute. Crusader goalkeeper Sydney Galvez-Daley (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick [Creighton]) made a save with 50 seconds to play to keep the Phoenix from leveling the match.
Valpo ended the match with a 17-8 edge in shots and put four on goal to the Phoenix’s three. Galvez-Daley and Green Bay (3-11-0, 1-5-0 Horizon) goalkeeper Kelly Kent each made a pair of saves. The Crusaders would end up with 15 total corner kicks in the winning effort.
“I thought we had a really good attacking mentality in the first half,” said Crusader head coach John Marovich. “Our team shape was good, and our tactics were right. I was really pleased with that half, and thought Rita did a tremendous job in finishing two goals for us. In the second half, we got into a ‘see the game out’ mindset and we didn’t have quite that same attacking mentality. But in this league, it’s about getting three points and moving on – we have a tough week ahead, so we’re pleased to get three points out of tonight and now focus on getting ready for the next one.”
Valparaiso (6-5-3, 3-2-1 Horizon) faces two league road matches in the week ahead, starting with a Wednesday evening battle at Milwaukee, which sits atop the league table. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m., and the match can be seen live on ESPN3.com, with a link for live stats available at ValpoAthletics.com as well.