Valparaiso (8-5-2, 2-2-1 Horizon)
Win puts Crusaders into HL Championship
Saturday, Oct. 26 - at Detroit (8-7-1, 2-3-0) - noon CT
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso women's soccer team can clinch a berth into the Horizon League Championship this weekend, as the Crusaders look for their second straight road win Saturday afternoon at Detroit.
Previously: A pair of goals early in the second half proved to be more than enough for the Crusaders on Saturday in a 2-0 win at Youngstown State. Rita Craven scored less than three minutes into the second period, and Robin Wenzel added her first career goal in the 57th minute for some insurance in the road win.
Following the Crusaders: Live stats for the match at Detroit will be available through ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: John Marovich holds a 52-40-19 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 (.554) ever at Valpo, and ranks second in total victories.
Series Notes: The Titans own a 6-3-0 advantage in the all-time series over the Crusaders, but it was Valpo which came out victorious in the last meeting in Valparaiso on Oct. 6, 2012, 1-0. The Crusaders got a goal from Jordyn Ryfiak with just 3:22 to play for the win, while Kristen Manski made six saves in the shutout.
Scouting the Opposition: Detroit enters this weekend with an 8-7-1 overall record and is right in the middle of a pack of teams in the league standings on six points at 2-3-0. The Titans have scored 29 goals overall this season, led by six from Alyssa Riley who also leads the team with 15 total points, but have scored just four times in their five Horizon League matches. Martha Dunbar has seen the vast majority of time at goalkeeper and owns a 1.30 GAA with five shutouts.
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.
Clinching a Berth: It’s a simple scenario for Valpo to clinch a spot in the Horizon League Championship this weekend: beat Detroit, earn three points and the Crusaders are in the tournament. Entering the weekend one point up on Cleveland State, Detroit and Youngstown State for fourth place, Valpo could also clinch a spot in the six-team field with a draw, coupled with a loss or tie by both Youngstown State and Green Bay. The Crusaders are very much still alive for a top-two placement and the corresponding bye into the semifinals, while Valpo does still maintain a mathematical possibility at claiming the regular season title.
Manski Earns Second League Honor of Season: Senior goalkeeper Kristen Manski was named the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week after posting her second consecutive shutout in Valpo’s win at YSU last weekend. Not only did Manski make four saves in keeping the clean sheet, she also contributed offensively, earning an assist on Valpo’s insurance goal for her second career point. Manski leads the Horizon League with a 0.70 GAA and eight shutouts on the season, while her clean sheet at YSU was the 30th of her career, second-most in league history.
Spreading the Wealth: While the Crusaders have scored just 15 goals in 15 games this season, numerous players have gotten in on the scoring. Nine different players have scored the 15 goals, with Rita Craven picking up her second goal of the year and Robin Wenzel finding the back of the net for the first time in her career most recently at YSU. The Crusaders have also had 14 total assists on the 15 markers, which have come from 11 different players. In all, 16 of the 23 Crusaders who have played this year have at least one point.
Youth Shall Be Served: Senior Hailey Chmela has scored two goals for the Crusaders this year, but take her pair of tallies away, and all 12 of the remaining goals (not counting an own goal) have been scored by underclassmen for Valpo. Sophomores have scored seven goals for Valpo, led by three from Jenny Fassbinder, while four different freshmen have combined for five goals.
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 7-1-1 at home, losing only on a late penalty kick to Miami (Ohio), and have given up just two goals in the run of play. Valpo is now 16-5-4 all-time at Brown Field. On the flip side, the Crusaders earned their first road win of the season last time out at Youngstown State, as they are now 1-4-1 away from home.
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 Ten squad.
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.