Valparaiso (6-3-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders open Horizon League play
Saturday, Sept. 28 - at Milwaukee (2-7-1, 0-0-0 Horizon) - 7 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Horizon League schedule gets underway for the Crusader women’s soccer team on the road Saturday evening, when Valpo makes the trip to Milwaukee to take on the defending league champion Panthers.
Previously: Valpo closed out non-league action last weekend with a pair of victories at Brown Field, taking down Western Illinois by a 2-0 final Friday night before completing the weekend sweep with a 2-1 victory over Eastern Illinois on Sunday afternoon.
Following the Crusaders: Saturday night’s match will have both live stats and live video available, with links at ValpoAthletics.com. The match will be the first of five league contests for the Crusaders featuring free live video on the Horizon League Network.
Head Coach John Marovich: John Marovich holds a 50-38-18 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 (.557) ever at Valpo, and ranks second in total victories.
Series Notes: The Crusaders are looking for their first win in program history over the Panthers, as Milwaukee has won all 14 prior matchups in the all-time series. Last season marked the first time that Valpo played the Panthers within one goal, as the Crusaders fell by a 1-0 final on a goal in the fourth minute.
Scouting the Opposition: Milwaukee has struggled to find wins in non-league action, entering league play just 2-7-1 this year, but has faced an extremely difficult slate, as eight of the Panthers’ ten opponents have been from power conferences. UWM has surrendered 30 goals on the season, but has also scored 14, including five from Krissy Dorre and four from Kelly Lewers.
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: Having played their final two non-league games last 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.
Dominance at Home: In its first season using Brown Field as its primary home field, Valpo has been nearly perfect at home so far this year. The Crusaders are 6-1-0 at home, losing only on a late penalty kick to Miami (Ohio), and have given up just one goal in the run of play. Valpo is now 15-5-3 all-time at Brown Field. On the flip side, the Crusaders are still looking for their first road win of the year (0-2-1).
Finding the Back of the Net: The Crusaders scored multiple goals in both their games last weekend, the first time this season they have scored more than once. Against WIU, an own goal gave Valpo the lead before Allegra Godfrey scored her first career goal as an insurance tally, while in the EIU win, Jenny Fassbinder and Sarrah Ludwig contributed the goals. Fassbinder became the first Crusader with multiple goals this season, as seven different players have tallied for Valpo.
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: While Valpo has played four straight games that haven’t finished 1-0, they started the season with six consecutive 1-0 contests, a stretch in which it went 4-2-0. The trend of 1-0 results 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 games.
End of a Defensive Streak: Valpo surrendered two goals in its loss to Evansville, 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. So far this season, the Crusaders rank seventh nationally in save pct. (.904) and 16th in GAA (0.48).
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 Western Illinois last Friday, the 28th shutout of her career, which moves her past former Milwaukee goalkeeper Jamie Forbes for second place in league history. Meanwhile, her career GAA of 0.81 ranks fourth all-time, just 0.02 behind third position.
A Family Affair: Saturday’s match at Milwaukee could pit a pair of sisters against each other on the park. Manski will most likely be in goal for the Crusaders, and could have to stare down a shot from her sister, freshman midfielder Kelly Manski of the Panthers. The latter Manski has appeared in seven matches off the bench for Milwaukee this season.