Valparaiso (4-3-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders play final pair of non-league contests
Friday, Sept. 20 - 7:30 p.m. Western Illinois (4-3-1)
Sunday, Sept. 22 - 1 p.m. - Eastern Illinois (0-7-0)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso closes out the non-league portion of its 2013 schedule this weekend with two more home games at Brown Field, hosting Western Illinois Friday night and Eastern Illinois Sunday afternoon.
Previously: Playing back-to-back road games for the first time this season, the Crusaders earned a scoreless draw at IUPUI last Friday night before suffering a 2-1 defeat at Evansville on Sunday despite a late goal from Jenny Fassbinder.
Following the Crusaders: Both matches this weekend will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com, as well as live audio broadcasts on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) and online through the Crusader website. Six Valpo women’s soccer matches this year, including three home contests, will have free live video on the Horizon League Network.
Head Coach John Marovich: John Marovich holds a 48-38-18 record both overall and with Valpo entering his sixth season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. Just the third head coach in program history, Marovich has the best winning percentage (.548) ever at Valpo, and ranks second in total victories.
Series Notes: Western Illinois - A familiar foe back when both teams were members of the Mid-Continent Conference, the Crusaders own a 7-2-1 advantage in the all-time series over the Leathernecks. The two sides have not faced off since Valpo left the Mid-Con, however, with WIU earning a 3-2 win in the last meeting in November of 2006 in the Mid-Con Tournament semifinals.
Eastern Illinois - Valpo is just 3-7-1 all-time against the Panthers, but all three of the Crusaders’ wins have come in the last three meetings, including wins in 2010 and most recently 2011. The 2011 win came by a 2-0 score in Charleston, Ill., thanks to goals by Mikki Nuccio and Rachel Hoaglin.
Scouting the Opposition: Western Illinois - The Leathernecks enter Friday night’s fixture also with a 4-3-1 overall record this year, including a 2-2-1 mark away from home. Eight different players have accounted for WIU’s ten goals, with Tyra Markey and Kristin Becker netting two apiece. Laura Atkinson has seen the majority of minutes in goal and owns a 1.42 GAA.
Eastern Illinois - The Panthers have struggled in 2013, as they enter the weekend having scored just one goal while surrendering 21 in their first seven games. EIU hosts Drake Friday afternoon before making the trip to Brown Field.
Crusaders Picked Fifth in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish in fifth place in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll. Detroit was picked to win the league, while Valpo was just seven points behind second-place Wright State.
Looking Back at 2012: Last season’s Crusader squad posted a 10-6-3 record, including a 3-2-2 mark in Horizon League action, en route to not only becoming the stingiest team in program history, but also pacing the nation defensively. Valpo’s team GAA of 0.51 led all Division I programs, the first national statistical championship for the women’s soccer program, while the Crusaders also set a new program single-season record with 11 shutouts.
No Interruption to League Play: With their final two non-league games of the season set for this weekend, the Crusaders’ last seven games of the regular season will all be Horizon League contests. This marks the third time since joining the HL that Valpo has played its league slate uninterrupted by any non-league contests, as the 2007 and 2010 teams also had the same schedule arrangement.
Big Victories: Already this season, the Crusaders have won a pair of games over BCS opponents. Valpo lifted the lid on the 2013 campaign with a win over DePaul, the Crusaders’ first-ever win over a team from any power conference (Big East). Then, Northwestern came to Brown Field on Sept. 5 and left 1-0 losers, as Valpo won its first-ever game over a Big Tan squad.
One-Nil: Last weekend marked the first time this season that Valparaiso has not played a 1-0 game. Each of the Crusaders’ first six games of this season, a stretch in which they went 4-2-0, ended 1-0. The trend dates back to last season, as of Valpo’s 19 matches in 2012, over half of them resulted in 1-0 final scores, with the Crusaders going 6-5-0 in those contests.
End of a Defensive Streak: Valpo surrendered two goals in the loss to Evansville on Sunday, ending a remarkable stretch of defensive play by the Crusaders. You had to go back over a calendar year (378 days to be exact) to find the last time Valpo had given up more than one goal in a match: a 3-1 loss at Iowa on Sept. 2, 2012. The Crusaders went 21 straight matches giving up either one or zero goals each time out, posting a team GAA of 0.32 during that stretch.
Moving Up the Charts: Senior goalkeeper Kristen Manski continues to move up the Horizon League’s career charts with her stellar efforts in goal. Manski posted a clean sheet against IUPUI last Friday, the 27th shutout of her career, tying her with former Milwaukee goalkeeper Jamie Forbes for second place in league history. Meanwhile, her career GAA of 0.82 ranks fourth all-time, just 0.03 behind third position.
Fassbinder Off the Mark: Sophomore Jenny Fassbinder found the back of the net for the first time in her career late in the Crusaders’ loss at Evansville on Sunday, making her Valpo’s second first-time goal scorer this season. Freshman Kat Anesini scored her first career goal against Northwestern, while two of the Crusaders’ other three goal scorers - Hailey Chmela and Rita Craven - scored their second career goal this year.
Returning All-League Players: A trio of players who earned All-Newcomer Team recognition from the Horizon League in 2012 as freshmen return for their sophomore seasons this year. Jenny Fassbinder started 13 matches on the outside in the back for Valpo as a rookie, while Rita Craven started every match in the midfield and Sarrah Ludwig appeared in every game in the middle, starting 10 times.