Valparaiso (8-6-2, 2-3-1 Horizon)
Regular season finale has postseason implications
Friday, Nov. 1 - Green Bay (4-8-4, 1-5-0 Horizon) - 6:30 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Soccer: A berth in the Horizon League Championship is on the line Friday night at Brown Field, as Valparaiso hosts Green Bay in the women’s soccer regular season finale.
Previously: A pair of late first-half goals were too much for the Valparaiso women’s soccer team to overcome on Saturday, as the Crusaders fell at Detroit, 2-0, in the penultimate match of the regular season. The Titans got on the board 33 minutes into the game and then found an insurance goal just 27 seconds before halftime.
Following the Crusaders: Links for live stats, audio (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso) and video (Horizon League Network) will all be available through ValpoAthletics.com for Friday night’s match.
Head Coach John Marovich: John Marovich holds a 52-41-19 record both overall and with Valpo in 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 (.549) ever at Valpo, and ranks second in total victories.
Series Notes: Green Bay holds an 8-5-2 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo, but the Crusaders have earned all seven results in the last seven meetings and are 4-0-1 in the last five matchups. Last season, the Crusaders earned a 1-0 win to close out regular season play in Green Bay on a Katie Gratzianna goal in the 68th minute. Valpo has not allowed a goal to the Phoenix in the last six meetings between the two teams.
Scouting the Opposition: Green Bay has been eliminated from a possible berth in the Horizon League Championship entering Friday night, as the Phoenix are 4-8-4 overall and 1-5-0 in league play. They have scored just 11 goals on the season, with Hannah Kernen netting a team-best three goals. Heidi Hartmann and Hekla Palmadottir both own two goals and three assists. Nastacia Behle has played the majority of minutes in goal and has a 1.04 GAA.
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.
Let’s Break It Down: With all eight Horizon League teams down to just one game left, the scenarios for the league tournament have become clearer. With a win on Friday, the Crusaders would secure at worst the five seed, and could move up to the four seed - hosting a first-round game on Tuesday - if Detroit lost at Youngstown State as well. The only way Valpo would miss the Horizon League Championship would be with a tie or loss against the Phoenix, along with victories by Youngstown State and Cleveland State (at Wright State). Any tiebreakers with YSU or CSU (or both) would be broken in the Crusaders’ favor, while a tiebreaker with Detroit would go the way of the Titans.
Manski Continues Strong Play: 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 on Oct. 19. 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 0.78 GAA and eight shutouts on the season, both of which rank third on Valpo’s single-season charts. The senior’s 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 16 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 are just 1-5-1 away from home this season.
Big Victories: The Crusaders have won a pair of games over BCS opponents this season. 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.