Valparaiso (0-11-1, 0-2-0 MVC)
Saturday, Oct. 12 - Illinois State (9-4-0, 2-0-0 MVC) - 7:30 p.m.
This Week in Valpo Soccer: Valpo returns home to Brown Field this weekend for the first time since Sept. 20, hosting Illinois State in MVC action Saturday night.
Previously: Twice, Valpo rallied from one-goal deficits in the second half last Saturday night at Indiana State behind strikes from junior Lauren Torhorst, but the Sycamores found a third goal which stood up as the match-winner as Valpo fell by a 3-2 final score.
Looking Ahead: Valpo faces its lone two-match week of the MVC calendar next week, as the Brown and Gold make the short trip to Chicago to take on Loyola on Wednesday before hosting Evansville on Sunday afternoon.
Following the Brown and Gold: Live stats will be available for Saturday’s match. No live video will be streamed.
Head Coach John Marovich: In his 12th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold, John Marovich holds a 96-91-31 (.511) record both overall and at Valpo as a head coach. The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, Marovich holds Valpo’s all-time records for both victories and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Valpo is just 1-6-0 all-time versus Illinois State, but that one victory over the Redbirds came last season in a rescheduled game on a Monday morning, 2-0. Caitlyn Oliver’s 29th minute goal gave Valpo the lead for good, while Julia Lehnen added an insurance tally in the 41st minute. Kezia Gesell made 12 saves in that fixture to keep the clean sheet, the most saves by a Valpo goalkeeper since October 2012.
Scouting the Opposition: Illinois State enters Saturday night at 9-4-0 overall this year and has won its first two MVC matches, beating UNI 5-0 and Evansville 3-0. Overall, the Redbirds have won seven consecutive matches dating back to Sept. 13. Kate Del Fava has led a prolific Illinois State offense this season, scoring 13 goals in 13 matches to lead the MVC and rank third nationally in total goals. In all, 10 different Redbirds have combined for 31 goals this year. In goal, Haley Smith has seen the vast majority of the action and owns a 1.19 GAA and a .791 save percentage.
Valpo Picked Seventh in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been picked to finish in seventh place in the MVC in 2019, according to preseason pollings of the conference’s head coaches. The Brown and Gold tallied 15 points in the polling. Loyola earned six of eight first-place votes en route to claiming the top spot. Valpo has not finished below its preseason projection in each of its first two years in The Valley.
Looking Back at 2018: Valpo posted a 5-8-3 record last season and went 2-4-1 in its second season of Missouri Valley Conference play. Cory Griffith was named a First Team All-MVC honoree as she closed out a stellar Valpo career with an eight-goal campaign, finishing her time at Valpo first in program history in game-winning goals (12) and second in goals (29) and points (65). Kelsey Jahn earned Second Team All-MVC honors, while Morgen Metzger was on the conference’s All-Freshman Team.
What’s Back and What’s New: Valpo returns 13 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including five starters. The program welcomed nine newcomers to the fold this season - eight true freshmen and one transfer.
Torhorst Tallies Two: Junior Lauren Torhorst registered the first brace of her career last Saturday night in Valpo’s match at Indiana State, twice leveling the match in the second half with goals in the 46th and 53rd minutes. She became the first Valpo player since Cory Griffith in last season’s finale, ironically also versus Indiana State, to register a multi-goal game. For Torhorst, it doubled her career output, as she had entered the match with two career goals, the last of which had come way back on Sept. 30, 2017.
Not Quite Enough: The two goals against Indiana State proved to be one short of the Sycamores’ tally, however, as Indiana State netted the match-winner in the 77th minute. For Valpo, it was its first time dropping a match when scoring multiple goals since the 2016 Horizon League Tournament at Oakland, also a 3-2 defeat.
Back Home Again: This Valpo side has been on the road for the last three matches and six of its last eight, but has a majority of home matches on the run to end the regular season, as three of the Crusaders’ final five matches are on Brown Field.
Noel Adds to Her Tally: Redshirt junior forward Tahelah Noel notched Valpo’s goal to open MVC play at Missouri State, a goal in the 25th minute that gave the Brown and Gold a lead they would hold for over 43 minutes. For Noel, it was her third career goal, but her first goal in a span of 757 days. Noel’s previous two tallies came just 12 days apart in her sophomore season, on Aug. 20 and Sept. 1 of 2017.
Late Heartbreak: Valpo’s conference opener at Missouri State looked destined for extra time, as the clock ticked into the waning minutes of regulation tied at 1-1 before the Bears netted the eventual match-winner in the 85th minute. It was the latest Valpo had surrendered a goal in regulation to lose a one-goal match since the 2016 Horizon League Tournament opener at Oakland, when the Golden Grizzlies scored in the 83rd and 87th minutes to deal Valpo a 3-2 loss. Since that fixture, Valpo has also lost three matches in extra time, including a 110th-minute defeat at Canisius earlier this year.
The Youth in the Side: Valpo has featured an extremely young side through the entirety of this season, starting with the season opener, where the Brown and Gold featured five freshmen in the starting XI. Five freshmen starters marked the most for a Valpo women’s soccer team in a season opener since at least 1998. To date, Valpo has started at least four freshmen and at least six total underclassmen in each match, with most matches featuring at least five rookies and seven underclassmen. The youngest starting XI to date came in the fixture at St. Bonaventure, when Valpo started six freshmen and three sophomores.