Panthers searching for another boost against Valpo

Freshman+forward+Chloe+Gottschalk+sprints+after+the+ball+in+a+game+on+Aug.+31+at+Lakeside+Field.++The+Panthers+lost+to+Louisiana+Tech+3-1.++Gottschalk+had+one+shot+on+goal.

Jason Howell

Freshman forward Chloe Gottschalk sprints after the ball in a game on Aug. 31 at Lakeside Field. The Panthers lost to Louisiana Tech 3-1. Gottschalk had one shot on goal.

Dominic Renzetti, Assistant Sports Editor

Going into its non-conference match against Valparaiso last season, the Eastern women’s soccer team was in the midst of an eight-match losing streak, having been shutout in its last seven matches.

With Ohio Valley Conference play right around the corner, the Panthers needed something, anything, to get a boost before its OVC-opener the next week. Though they did not leave Valparaiso with a win, Hannah Miller scored a second-half goal to break the month-long scoring drought. The next week, Eastern upset Belmont with a 1-0 overtime win and went on to win five of its next six OVC matches.

Now this season, the Panthers meet Valparaiso again, this time with the Crusaders coming to Lakeside Field for a 3 p.m. match Friday. The Panthers are 0-6-1 and again looking for that boost with the OVC schedule looming over their heads.

“I think these next two games will be really big for us,” red-shirt junior Chris Reed said.

Reed herself has been big for Eastern, scoring in each of the last four matches, accounting for all of the Panthers’ goals this season.

Being from South Bend, Ind., Eastern head coach Jason Cherry knows just what to expect from Valparaiso and exactly what kind of team they are. He and Valparaiso head coach John Marovich have coached both with and against each other at the club level.

“They’re a very physical team,” he said. “They’re going to bring it.”

Valparaiso is 2-1-4 entering this weekend. It played to a scoreless 0-0 draw against IUPUI on Aug. 24, which Eastern lost to 3-2 on Sept. 7. Valparaiso also beat the OVC’s Belmont 2-1 in its season opener on Aug. 22. The Panthers meet Belmont on Oct. 3 at Lakeside Field.

Junior midfielder Rita Craven, from Frankfort, and sophomore Vanessa Abdad, a transfer from Ohio State, lead Valparaiso with two goals each. Junior Sydney Galvez-Daley, a transfer from Creighton, has started each of Valparaiso’s seven matches, only giving up three goals so far this season.

The Panthers wrap up non-conference play at 1 p.m. Sunday, traveling to Chicago for only their second road match of the season to take on Chicago State.

Chicago State is in its first year as a women’s soccer team and is currently 1-6 to start under head coach Tony Tommasi, who was previously head coach of Division III Buena Vista in Storm Lake, Iowa, from 2010-12.

Chicago State’s roster is comprised of 23 players, all of whom are freshmen. The Cougars got their first win in program history against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Aug. 23 with a 4-1 win. Since then, they have lost five straight, giving up at least three goals in each match and scoring none.

When going up against an unfamiliar opponent, Cherry said the team would focus more on itself when preparing.

“We’re going to really focus on the things that we need to do,” he said. “It’s our last non-conference game, so maybe give a few people some different chances at different positions and try to just get everything ready for conference.”

Red-shirt senior Lauren Hoppensteadt, who suffered an ankle injury against IUPUI and did not play Sunday against Wisconsin-Green Bay, participated in practice this week. Cherry said she would likely see limited action this weekend.

Dominic Renzetti can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]