For the first time in the program's 24-year history, the Crusader men's soccer team has earned a regional ranking from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), checking in sixth in this week's Midwest Regional Poll.
The rankings are through matches as of Sunday, September 3, at which time the Crusaders were 3-0 after defeating UC-Davis on the road Saturday night. No Valpo team since 1987 had started out 3-0, and no Crusader team had ever earned a ranking in a NSCAA poll.
This season has been a season of firsts for the Crusaders, beginning on Sunday, August 27 when Paul Leitlet (Munster, Ind./Munster) thrilled the home crowd with Valpo's first hat trick in 11 years and tied the school record with seven points in a single match. The sophomore, who added a goal and an assist in the season opener, was later honored as the NSCAA and Soccer Times National Player of the Week and Mid-Con Player of the Week, in addition to earning a spot on the College Soccer News and Soccer America National Team of the Week.
Then this past week at the Copa de Causeway Tournament, senior D.J. Catrow (Springfield, Ohio/Catholic Central) matched Leitlet's opening weekend with a pair of two-goal matches, earning the Mid-Con's Offensive Player of the Week Award.
Southern Methodist leads this week's NSCAA Midwest Regional Ranking, followed by Kentucky, Memphis, UAB, Tulsa and the Crusaders. Even at 3-1 after a one-goal loss Monday at Sacramento State, the Brown and Gold have still matched the best start in school history, and are only three wins shy of last season's total.
The Crusaders (3-1) have their next four matches at Eastgate Field, starting this Friday at 4:30 p.m. against Western Michigan. That match, as well as Sunday's 1:00 p.m. match against Buffalo, can be heard live on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.