VALPARAISO — Amazing grace, how sweet the saves.
Times No. 2 Crown Point blanked No. 6 Valparaiso 2-0 in a Duneland Athletic Conference match Tuesday thanks to a clutch effort between the pipes by goal keeper Grace Lynch, who denied the Vikings on several strong scoring chances to maintain the zero.
"I think it's very frustrating for an opponent when you're working hard and get an opportunity and the goal makes a save," Lynch said. "A lot of it is reading the flight of the ball, making sure I'm in good position to be where I need to be when the team needs me there."
Valparaiso had the better of the chance in the first half with Lynch leaving her feet three times to turn away shots, including a point-blank stop of Bellia Grisafi in the 32nd minute, to keep the match scoreless.
"We were having trouble with that last ball from center-mid to forward," C.P. coach Chris Mikrut said. "We rotate keepers a lot. Sometimes, we play three. Gracie was playing well, so we made the decision to roll with her in the second half."
Crown Point (7-4, 4-1) broke the scoreless tie in the 57th minute when Emmie McConnell ran by a defender and tucked a shot past Stella Cusson off a header by Haneen Abdulla.
"(Valpo's Kelly) Landry is one of the best (center defenders), so we were trying to draw up plays to drag her out," Mikrut said. "She's so good at winning every single ball. It was a beautiful ball by Haneen and Emmie showed great composure."
Cusson was ticketed for a foul on Bridget Raynoek on a play in the goal box with 16:27 left. Leah Surufka cashed in on the penalty kick, slipping the ball in off the left post despite Cusson getting a glove on it.
"She was going for the ball," Valpo coach Rob Cespedes said, disputing the call.
The second goal proved particularly crucial with Lynch's stellar play. She elevated to deny Emma Pollitt at 67:46, the ball trickling close to the goal line before it was cleared away.
"It's reassuring when you have strong play in front of you and defenders behind you in case they get by," Lynch said. "It's very reassuring."
The stop capped a frustrating offensive night for Valpo (6-3-2, 3-2).
"I thought both halves, we had the better of the play," Cespedes said. "We were generating plays. We were offensive-minded. That's all you can ask. Sometimes, they just don't come out the way you want."
Mikrut was pleased with the effort and the result coming off tough games Saturday against state-ranked Hamilton Southeastern and Indianapolis Brebeuf.
"We needed this game," he said. "It puts us in a good spot at least for second place in the conference. Valpo's in a tough stretch and we're coming out of a tough stretch. It's what you'd expect out of a Valpo-Crown Point game."