The Valparaiso University women’s soccer team battled on Sunday in its first appearance in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament since 1998, but the sixth-seeded Crusaders fell in Chicago to third-seeded Loyola by a 2-1 final as Valpo’s season came to a close. Junior Cory Griffith (Lemont, Ill./Providence Catholic) tied the Crusader single-season record for goals in Sunday’s finale, while senior Grace Rogers (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury) set a new single-season mark for assists..
How It Happened
- The Crusaders had the better of play early on in the game, forcing Loyola goalkeeper Maddie Ford to make a stop in the 12th minute on a shot from Griffith, and then a save in traffic in the 25th minute as Sydney Gountounas (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) sent a header towards the frame off a corner kick.
- Valpo goalkeeper Drew Moulton (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) was up to the task on her first challenge of the match, stopping Jenna Szczesny one-on-one in the 32nd minute. But Szczesny would put the Ramblers ahead just two minutes later, making a run into the box and touching home a cross inside the near post.
- The Crusaders would answer almost immediately, however, finding the back of the net in the 37th minute. For the third straight game, it was a set piece goal off a long service into the box from Rogers which Griffith found herself on the other end of, heading it home to level the score at 1-1.
- Loyola reclaimed the lead early in the second half, as the Ramblers sent a long ball upfield which was headed back to the edge of the Crusader area. Szczesny chased it down and finished inside the far post to put the Ramblers on top, 2-1.
- Valpo was able to withstand an extended stretch of Loyola pressure just after the goal to keep it a one-goal game, and then looked to equalize the match in the 71st minute.
- Loyola was called for a foul in the penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick, and the Rambler player responsible was issued her second yellow card of the match to put the Crusaders up a player. But Valpo’s effort at the PK was wide, and despite having the one-player advantage, the Crusaders were unable to find their second goal of the match.
Inside the Match
- The loss ended the Crusaders’ 2017 season at 9-10-0 overall. Valpo finished in a tie for fifth place in The Valley regular season standings in its first year as a full-fledged league member, exactly where it was picked entering the campaign.
- Sunday’s match was also the final in the career of four Crusader seniors: Gountounas, Rogers, Jordon Tindell (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) and Lily Chetosky (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale). The quartet experienced 39 wins over their four seasons with the Crusaders, and were freshmen on the 2014 squad which won a program-record 14 matches and won league regular season and tournament titles.
- Griffith’s goal on Sunday was her 11th of the season, matching the Valpo single-season record held by Lori Moore (2000) and Emily King (2005). The junior ended the 2017 campaign with six goals in the Crusaders’ final six matches.
- Griffith also matched her own single-season program record for match-winning goals this season with five. Her goal on Sunday gave her 25 points on the year, second-most in a season in program history.
- Rogers closed out her Valpo career with an assist in each of Valpo’s final three matches, an appropriate end as she finishes her time as a Crusader with the program’s career assists record (15). Her helper on Griffith’s goal on Sunday was her seventh of the season, breaking a three-way tie atop the program’s single-season assists chart.
- Rogers’ assist was also the Crusaders’ 30th as a team this year to set a new program single-season mark, breaking the previous record of 29 held by the 2005 side.
- Valpo finished Sunday’s match with a 17-11 advantage in shots over Loyola, which advances to face second-seeded Missouri State in the MVC Tournament semifinal later this week. Both squads put six shots on goal, while the physical affair saw a total of 34 fouls called and four cards issued.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I certainly am not disappointed in our group’s performance today – I thought they came out in their first MVC Tournament game and showed extremely well. We came into an environment like this, and I thought they really stood up today and let people know that they’re a great group who work hard and compete.”
“I thought the first goal Loyola scored was a good goal – a great touch by their attacker. But we came back and responded quite well to going down, equalizing quickly on a nice header from Cory off a good service from Grace. In the second half, we created some chances, but couldn’t find the equalizer.”
“We’re excited about the future, but today is also a sad day, because we say goodbye to four seniors we love. What makes it hurt worse is how much you care for them and want to see their time as players extended as much as possible.”