Valparaiso (3-4-1, 0-0-0 MVC)
Sunday, Sept. 23 - Drake (3-7-0, 0-0-0 MVC) - 1 p.m.
This Week in Valpo Soccer: The Valparaiso University women’s soccer team opens Missouri Valley Conference action this weekend as it hosts defending conference regular season champion Drake. Sunday’s match is a “Gold Out” for Valpo, as they partner with Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Valpo Love Your Melon in the fight against pediatric cancer.
Previously: An 87th minute goal from Ava Porlier proved to be the match-winner last Sunday, as Valpo earned a 2-1 road win at IUPUI in its final match before the start of conference play.
Looking Ahead: Valpo continues the MVC slate on the road next Saturday, Sept. 29 with a match under the lights at Evansville.
Following the Brown and Gold: Sunday’s match is scheduled for live broadcast on ESPN+. Live stats will be available as well, with links for all the live coverage available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds an 94-76-28 (.545) record both overall and with Valpo entering his 11th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. Just the third head coach in program history, Marovich holds Valpo’s all-time records for victories and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Valpo is 0-3-1 all-time against Drake, with last season’s MVC meeting marking the first matchup in the series since 2004. The Bulldogs earned a 4-2 win in Des Moines last year, with Kelsey Jahn and Lauren Torhorst accounting for Valpo’s goals.
Valpo Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been chosen to finish in sixth place in the MVC preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s head coaches. Valpo totaled 24 points in the preseason polling. Loyola picked up five first-place votes en route to topping the poll, while Missouri State (two first-place votes) and UNI (one first-place vote) were tabbed second and third, respectively.
Looking Back at 2017: Valpo is coming off of a 9-10-0 record in 2017 and posted a 3-4-0 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play, good for a tie for fifth place. Cory Griffith was a First Team All-MVC selection and earned Third Team All-Region honors after matching Valpo’s single-season record with 11 goals scored. Five Valpo players in all received postseason recognition from the MVC, as Sydney Griffin, Kelsey Jahn and Grace Rogers were Honorable Mention All-Conference and Keegan Maris earned a spot on the conference’s All-Freshman Team.
Helping Out Twice: Senior Natalia Kontul recorded the first two-assist game of her career in Valpo’s lone match of the week, helping on both goals in Valpo's 2-1 win at IUPUI. Kontul registered the primary assist on the 30th minute goal which gave Valpo a 1-0 lead, and then with the score level in the 87th minute, delivered a corner kick which was headed home for the match-winning goal. Kontul has now tallied seven career assists, tied with Sydney Griffin as Valpo’s active career leader.
Another Match-Winner: Senior Ava Porlier has made both of her goals this season count, as she has now tallied the match-winning goal in Valpo’s wins over Green Bay and IUPUI - both of which came in the final 10 minutes of regulation. Prior to this year, Porlier had scored in just one match in her career - a two-goal game against Western Michigan in 2016.
Momentum Into Conference Play: The victory over IUPUI sends Valpo into its MVC opener with a bit of momentum. It marks the first time the Brown and Gold will enter league play following a victory since 2014 - that season saw Valpo run through Horizon League action with a perfect 8-0-0 record.
Success in Openers: Valpo looks to continue a trend of getting off to a strong start in conference action. In the last seven years, Valpo is 5-1-1 in conference openers, including a win last season at Missouri State in its MVC opener.
Griffith Scores Yet Again: Senior Cory Griffith opened the scoring in Sunday’s win with a 30th-minute header, increasing her goal tally to six on the year. She has now has recorded 28 career goals, second-most in Crusader history, and registered 60 career points, just one shy of second on Valpo’s career points chart.
The Record-Setting Performance: Griffith broke Valpo’s single-match record by scoring an NCAA D-I season-high four goals in the win over Robert Morris, carrying Valpo to a 4-2 victory. She scored all four of her goals in a 28-minute stretch spanning the two halves, netting a first-half perfect hat trick before closing out her scoring with a 48th-minute goal. Griffith, who is the only player in Valpo history with multiple hat tricks during her career and also broke the program’s single-match record for points, now owns Valpo’s career match-winning goals record with 11.
Bringing in the Honors: With her record-setting performance against Robert Morris came a pair of accolades for Griffith. She was named the MVC Offensive Player of the Week - her first weekly award from a league office since being named Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 31, 2016. Griffith was also named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week, the first Valpo player to be represented on the 11-player weekly squad since the website’s inception.
Iron Woman: Junior Ali Quillen made it 740 minutes played this season as she went the full 90 in the win over IUPUI, as she has not come off the park in any of Valpo’s eight matches this year. Quillen has now gone the distance in 42 of 46 career matches and is currently on a streak of 1,377 consecutive minutes played.
Making the Step Up: Valpo faced a giant step up in conference competition last season as it made the move from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference. The Crusaders jumped from the nation’s 28th-ranked league in 2016 to the nation’s 12th-ranked conference in 2017. The average team RPI in the MVC in 2017 was 85 spots better than the average team RPI in the Horizon League the previous year. This upgrade in competition allowed Valpo to finish the 2017 campaign 57 spots higher in the RPI despite posting the same win-loss record as the previous season.
An Experienced Group: Valpo welcomes back nine of its 11 regular starters from last year’s campaign and 20 letterwinners in all, including players who combined for 26 of the Crusaders’ 28 goals last season and every minute at goalkeeper.