The Valpo women’s soccer team held one of the nation’s prolific offenses at bay deep into the second half of Saturday night’s match at Brown Field, but an 80th-minute goal was the difference maker as Illinois State closed the night with a 1-0 win over the Brown and Gold.
How It Happened
- The two sides played a scoreless first half. Illinois State held a 10-2 advantage in shots over the opening 45 minutes and put seven attempts on goal, forcing Valpo goalkeeper Kezia Gesell (Winnipeg, Man./Glenlawn Collegiate Institute) to make seven saves to keep the Redbirds off the board.
- While Gesell had to make seven first-half saves, most of those were simple stops on shots from distance right at her. The junior did have a couple of nice stops in the first period, however, chief among them a leaping save to push a shot from Abby Basler over the bar in the 22nd minute.
- Gesell also made a strong save late in the first half, diving to her left along the ground to smother a shot from Megan McEachern.
- The eventual match-winner fell the Redbirds’ way in the 80th minute, after nearly 35 minutes of scoreless second-half soccer. Basler took a corner kick and sent it into the six-yard box, and amongst a gaggle of players from both sides, Alyssa Siebers was able to knock it across the line.
- Valpo had a strong push a couple minutes later as it looked for the equalizer which included a pair of corner kicks in quick succession, but all three of its shot attempts were blocked by Illinois State defenders as the Redbirds eventually held on for the win.
Inside the Match
- Valpo’s effort Saturday night came against a team which is used to finding the back of the net early and often. The Redbirds entered the match among the top-20 in the nation in goals scored and had scored multiple goals in eight of their last 10 matches, including a combined 8-0 in MVC wins over UNI and Evansville.
- Individually, Valpo limited the nation’s third-leading goal scorer entering the match, Kate Del Fava, to very little on the attack. Del Fava, who had scored 13 goals in Illinois State’s first 13 games, mustered just one shot attempt on Saturday and was unable to put that effort on goal.
- Illinois State, which has now won eight consecutive matches, out-shot Valpo on the evening 18-8 and put 11 shots on frame to the Crusaders’ two.
- The Redbirds also attempted seven of the match’s nine corner kicks.
- Gesell was strong in goal for Valpo, stopping 10 shots in the tough-luck loss. For the junior, it was the second time in her career she racked up a double-digit saves total, and ironically, the last time was also against Illinois State – a 12-save effort last season.
- The 1-0 loss was Valpo’s fifth by that very score this season. The Crusaders have now lost seven one-goal matches, including all three of its MVC fixtures to date.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I’m extremely pleased with everyone who stepped onto the field for us tonight. We came in with a new tactical plan against a very good goal-scoring side, and all our players came in and executed that plan. It was one of our best efforts this season in terms of our organization.”
“I couldn't be prouder of this group - they're continuing to work and battle, and if they continue to perform the way they did tonight, the results are right around the corner.”
Valpo (0-12-1, 0-3-0 MVC) moves on to face MVC co-leader Loyola in Chicago Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. The match can be seen live on ESPN+.