VALPARAISO | Playing in swirling wind and driving rain wasn’t exactly what Valparaiso women’s soccer coach John Marovich had in mind for the biggest game of the season, but he wasn’t making any excuses on Tuesday afternoon.
The Crusaders gave up a goal in the ninth minute and were never able to answer as Loyola topped Valparaiso 1-0 in the first round of the Horizon League tournament at Eastgate Field.
The Ramblers will advance to play at Milwaukee on Friday while the Crusaders can only shake their heads following their second straight first-round exit.
“This is as windy as it’s ever been out here,” Marovich said. “I don’t know that it changed our mindset. Even when we were down, never did we think that we’d already lost.”
Loyola forward Allison Shimer took a feed from Tricia Stonebraker in the ninth minute and snuck the ball just inside the far post.
“Unfortunately we made a mistake and the ball bounced,” Marovich said. “It didn’t bounce our way. They were able to score and obviously that changes some things, but we had our chances.”
The Crusaders out-shot Loyola 14-10 in the match, but had most of their opportunities in the first half when they had the wind at their backs and a 13-4 shot advantage. Valparaiso had four chances within five minutes midway through the first half, but the Loyola defense came up with several blocks in front of goalie Monica Gonyo (six saves).
“We had possession and we pushed ourselves to get those chances,” Marovich said. “It comes down to finishing and we just couldn’t finish today.”
Valparaiso ends the 2012 campaign at 10-6-3 after finishing in third place in the Horizon League for the third time in three years. Desario finishes her career with 18 goals, tied for fourth-best in program history. Portage native Tara Ellis had a team-high three shots on goal on Tuesday and finished her junior season with a goal and a team-high four assists.
“We gave ourselves chances all year and it just felt like we were one or two goals away from this being totally different and maybe we wouldn’t have even had to play today,” Marovich said. “That’s the game of soccer. At the end of the day we just didn’t put enough away to be where we wanted to be.”