Valparaiso (7-7-3, 4-4-1 Horizon)
Crusaders open up Horizon League Championship on the road
Monday, Nov. 2 – 6 p.m. CT – Dayton, Ohio – at Wright State (8-7-1, 5-3-1 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University women’s soccer team opens up defense of its Horizon League tournament title Monday night as it travels to Wright State for a first-round matchup. The Crusaders earned the tournament’s fifth seed with last Friday’s win over Cleveland State, while the Raiders enter the tournament as the fourth seed.
Previously: It was only fitting that, in their final match at home on Brown Field, a pair of seniors teamed up for the match-winning goal, as Shelby Oelschlager finished a cross from Jenny Fassbinder in the 101st minute to give Valparaiso a 1-0 win over Cleveland State Friday evening. The goal finished off a game which saw Valpo out-shoot the Vikings, 28-9. Freshman Drew Moulton, making her third career start in goal, earned her first career victory and shutout.
Following the Crusaders: Monday’s match will be broadcast on ESPN3.com while live stats will also be available at ValpoAthletics.com
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds a 73-52-27 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 (.569) ever at Valpo, and ranks second in total victories, just seven wins shy of the top spot.
Series Notes: Valpo is just 2-8-4 all-time against Wright State, but the Crusaders have not lost to the Raiders in their last five meetings – four draws and a win in Dayton in 2014. This season, the two sides tied 1-1 at Brown Field, with Rita Craven scoring in the 50th minute before the Raiders equalized in the 56th minute. The two teams have met only once in the Horizon League Championship – a 2-1 Valpo win in the semifinals in 2009.
Scouting the Opposition: Wright State enters the league tournament with an 8-7-1 overall record this year and posted a 5-3-1 mark in Horizon League play. The Raiders are on a four-match winning streak, including most recently a 2-0 win at Detroit in the regular season finale. Bryce Hueber and Natalie Sedlock tied for team-high honors in the regular season with six goals apiece. In goal, Halle Pyle has played nearly 80% of the minutes and owns a 0.70 GAA with four shutouts.
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).
Crusaders in the Horizon League Championship: This year marks Valpo’s eighth appearance in the Horizon League Championship, as the only year the Crusaders have failed to qualify was 2010 – the first year of the six-team format. Last year, of course, Valpo beat both Green Bay and Detroit at home to claim the tournament crown. The Crusaders own a 4-4-2 record in the league tournament since joining the Horizon League prior to the 2007 season.
Creating Chances in League Play: Valpo proved to be the league’s most prolific team in terms of creating chances within Horizon League games. The Crusaders ended the regular season atop the league stats in league-only matches in both shots (155) and corner kicks (64), taking 13 more corner kicks over the nine league fixtures than any other squad. Valpo ended up with 16 goals in league action, second-most, trailing only Northern Kentucky’s 17.
Academic All-District: A pair of seniors were honored Thursday by CoSIDA for their work both on the field and in the classroom. Seniors Rita Craven and Jenny Fassbinder both earned First Team Academic All-District V accolades for the second straight season, and are now eligible for Academic All-America honors. Craven and Fassbinder, both of whom were NSCAA Scholar All-Americans last season, both own GPAs above 3.9 as biology majors and have both been integral parts of the Crusader side over the last four years.
Oelschlager Becomes Offensive Threat: Through her first 45 career games, senior defender Shelby Oelschlager had tallied just two assists on the offensive side of the ball. But over her last nine, Oelschlager has cemented herself as a force to be reckoned with offensively, especially on corners, as she has picked up four goals – including two match-winners – and two assists over that stretch. Most recently, Oelschlager made a run from the back line all the way to the opposite end line to finish in the second overtime period for the match-winner against Cleveland State.
A Brace for Craven: Senior Rita Craven accounted for all of the Crusaders’ scoring in their win over Green Bay with her pair of first-half goals, registering her second career multi-goal game. Craven now owns 14 career goals and nine career assists, both of which are tied for ninth-most in Valpo history, while her 37 points rank eighth. In addition, Craven’s match-winner against the Phoenix was the ninth of her career, just one shy of the Crusaders’ all-time record.
Cronin Adds to Her Total: Junior April Cronin added two more goals to her ledger with goals against Northern Kentucky and Loyola, bringing her team-leading total to seven goals on the season. Cronin’s seven goals place her in a second-place tie in the Horizon League. The junior is now tied for eighth on Valpo’s single-season goal-scoring chart and has boosted her career total to 17 goals, sixth-best in Crusader history and just one goal shy of fourth place.
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.