MUNSTER | A week ago, Valparaiso jumped out to an early two-goal lead on Indianapolis North Central, but failed to hold on for the victory.
Saturday, Times No. 3 Valparaiso protected its 2-0 lead over No. 2 Munster for the duration of the contest.
"We tightened up better on defense and we possessed the ball better," Vikings coach Danny Jeftich said. "Our leadership showed up, too."
Valpo (14-2) opened things up early.
At 2:49, John Christodoulakis broke free inside the Munster box and got a shot just under Mustang keeper Evan Katan's reach.
"I just ran with it. I knew (the defender) was next to me so I just tried to hold him off and sliding it past the goalie," Christodoulakis said. "And it worked."
Not quite five minutes later, Luke Kovar rocketed a rebound into the left side of the goal to make it 2-0 Vikings. Munster fans thought Kovar's shot ricocheted off of a Viking hand.
"That early in the game, we're down 2-0, we still fought very hard but that's too much of a hole against a team like Valpo," Mustangs coach Jim Prasopoulos said. "They were very quick on the ball, very decisive, and they pretty much went right through us like Swiss cheese."
Losing its third straight, Munster (10-4-1) had perhaps its best chance when Drake Bowers broke free in the 71st minute. Valparaiso goalie Ethan Lehnen came out and met Bowers about 15 yards in front the goal.
Lehnen emphatically blocked Bowers' shot to squash the threat.
"What North Central did to us (last week) was what we want to do -- hold possession, move the ball around, make the other team run," Christodoulakis said. "We were able to do that today."
In the 24th minute, Valpo senior defender Tommy Billings wound up for a kick near midfield but his leg was stopped by a Mustang defender. Billings crumbled to the ground and had to be helped off the pitch.
His status for the postseason is uncertain.