The Season: Under first-year head coach Mike Avery, the Crusaders started a turnaround in their program. While the turnaround might not be reflected in the 2007 season record (4-11-3 overall, 2-4-2 Horizon), Valpo put together a number of building blocks to put the program into a good position for the future. With 22 newcomers among the team’s 32 players, the Crusaders came together quickly, especially on the defensive end of the field. Goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz set a program record for single-season goals against average, and the team allowed just 28 goals, the third-fewest in a single campaign in program history.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso found itself down two goals early, and while the Crusaders cut the deficit to one goal early in the second half, they could not complete the comeback, as Wright State defeated Valpo 2-1 on Nov. 9, 2007 in Dayton, Ohio in the first round of the Horizon League Championship. The Raiders struck right away on their first scoring opportunity of the match, as Tony Labudovski found the back of the net in the 4th minute. Braden Fleak scored in the 11th minute to give WSU a 2-0 advantage.
The Crusaders would cut the deficit in half early in the second half. Steve Shively found the back of the net for his team-best fifth marker of the season in the 58th minute. But Valpo could not find the back of the net again, bringing its season to a close.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) broadcast all of Valpo's home soccer matches during the 2007 season, and also joined the team on the road for selected matches. The Crusaders also were broadcast worldwide over the internet at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
Getting It Done Defensively: Valparaiso asserted itself as a very solid defensive team throughout the 2007 season, and stepped it up a notch on the back line late in the year. In seven of their eight league contests, the Crusaders held their opponent to one goal or less, and did not give up a goal in regulation in their last four league games. On the season, Valpo gave up just 28 goals, third-fewest in a single season in program history.
Versus the NCAA Tournament Field: Valpo faced four NCAA Tournament opponents during the 2007 campaign, and while the Crusaders went just 0-3-1 over those four games, they acquitted themselves well in all four contests. Valpo dropped a 2-0 decision at Duke, and lost 1-0 at both DePaul and Elite Eight participant UIC, the latter loss coming in double overtime. Most impressively, the Crusaders fought to a 1-1 draw with then-nationally ranked Michigan State.
Re-Claiming Eastgate: The Crusaders closed out their five-game slate at Eastgate Field this year with a 2-2-1 record, the second consecutive season that Valpo has finished at or above .500 on its home pitch. Valpo is starting to regain a home field advantage after finishing below .500 each of the previous 10 years.
Academic Success: The Crusader team has also earned a number of academic awards this season. Valpo was recently honored with the NSCAA Team Academic Award, one of just three Horizon League institutions to receive the honor. Individually, both Ryan Schwarz and Steve Shively were named Academic All-Horizon League honorees for their athletic and academic performance.
Schwarz Named Goalkeeper of the Year: Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz earned the Horizon League’s top honor for goalies, being named its Goalkeeper of the Year. Schwarz stood out in net for the Crusaders in 2007, leading the league with 89 saves. His average of 5.24 saves/match ranked 17th nationally. He set a new Crusader record for single-season goals against average at 1.57, and lowered his GAA to 1.02 in loop contests.
Shively Finds the Net: Sophomore forward Steve Shively found the back of the net a team-high five times in 2007. One of his goals was a game-winner, while three others helped the Crusaders to 1-1 draws. Shively now has nine career markers through two seasons, with five of them being match-winning goals.
Lomeli Receives Accolade: Junior forward Oscar Lomeli closed out the regular season with Valpo’s only goal in its 1-0 victory over Cleveland State, his second of the season. Lomeli earned Second Team and All-Newcomer Team accolades from the Horizon League in his first year as a Crusader.
Ortiz Distributes the Ball: Freshman midfielder Adrian Ortiz concluded his first season as a Crusader with a team-best seven assists. Ortiz finished the campaign tied for the Horizon League lead in the category and ranked 54th nationally with 0.39 assists/contest. His seven helpers are tied for second-most in a single season in Valpo history, and Ortiz sits just two assists shy of the career top-10.