PORTAGE | In 80 minutes of play, matches are often decided by one or two moments.
So it was for Valparaiso in Saturday's 1-0 win over Chesterton in the championship of the Class 2A Portage Sectional.
Andrea Violanti one-timed a corner kick from Mary Gooding inside the near post at 36:51 for the only goal and Emma Kurt stuffed Bridget Brandza on a breakaway in the 72nd minute for the defining save.
"I've been playing my whole life for this moment," said Kurt, who returned Thursday from a month's absence due to a concussion. "I'm glad my team was there to help support me during my bad time and I could get back to where I am."
Kurt, who played the second half Thursday against Hobart, did the same Saturday, with Kristina Veljovic between the pipes for the opening 40. Her moment came when Brenda got in on goal ahead of a defender. Kurt came out on the charging Brendza and smothered her shot just as it left her foot.
"It's experience," Kurt said. "I don't really know what I'm thinking. The adrenaline's flowing through you, so you just do what you're taught. There's no set rule, no instinct to tell you to go or not. You've just got to take control of the situation, make the split-second decision."
It was Kurt's only save. Veljovic also had one.
"We have two really strong keepers," Valpo coach Rob Cespedes said. "Kristina was the keeper while Emma was gone and she deserves the play she gets. Emma's working her way back in and you can see the good player she is. That (save) was huge. The big thing talking to Emma is, you've got to own the box, and she definitely did. She knew when she needed to come out and she made a great play."
The scoreless tie was broken when Violanti got a right toe on Gooding's low serve and put it past Alex Bucko.
"Our first corner was a really good ball and I almost got to it, so all I was literally thinking in my head was that I will get to this ball," Violanti said.
Violanti was the one player who Chesterton coach Dave Galloway said the Trojans could not give a chance to score.
"It was a great play," Galloway said. "On set pieces, we tell them the one person we've got to mark is Violanti, and she's a crafty enough player to find an open spot and put it in the net. Valpo played very hard in the midfield. We needed to control space and too often we were starting from the back."
Valparaiso, with 10 seniors on its roster, won its third sectional title in a row.
"We talked to the girls that the first game (a 4-0 Valpo win) didn't reflect anything," Cespedes said. "It's one and done and we know Chesterton's always going to come out strong. We've got great maturity. Our seniors have been through a lot of stuff. They know what's expected, what needs to get done, and they kept that mindset."
The Vikings will face Lake Central in the Valpo Regional.
"The whole team was playing for the seniors," Violanti said. "Nobody wants to be done. Our goal, obviously, is to get to state, but we're taking it a game at a time."