The Valparaiso men’s soccer team went into the half tied 1-1 with ACC foe North Carolina State Friday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C., but eventually fell, 2-1, to the Wolfpack in the first match of the Wolfpack Classic.
“This is a match where, while we’re not happy with the result, we can be happy with the way we performed on the field,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery, who was coaching his first match at the head of the Valpo program. “We really came into a tough environment and showed people what the Valpo men’s soccer program is all about.”
N.C. State, which tied #1/1 UCLA 2-2 in its only exhibition match, got on the board first in the 16th minute. Ernesto Di Laudo took a long lead pass behind the defense from Jorge Mora and beat Valpo keeper Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) to put the Wolfpack up 1-0.
The Crusaders responded in the 25th minute to tie the game. Given a throw-in deep in N.C. State territory, Oscar Lomeli (Jalisco, Mexico/ (Bethel [Ind.]) threw the ball long into the box. Adrian Ortiz (Berwyn, Ill./Morton West) got the ball up in the air on the head of Mario Diaz (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel [South Suburban]), who headed the ball past Christopher Widman to knot up the match at one.
Valpo found itself at a disadvantage for most of the second half as, in the 48th minute, Tyler Pagano (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein [Massachusetts]) was sent off with a red card, leaving the Crusaders with just ten men on the field. Despite the disadvantage, Valpo played right with the Wolfpack for the entire second half, but eventually gave up the deciding goal to Orry Powers in the 80th minute. The Crusaders got a couple of quality scoring opportunities late, but could not put the ball in the back of the net.
“After we got a man down, we really responded well,” said Avery. “The entire team really stepped up and kept us within striking distance, and I’m happy with the way we played.”
The Wolfpack had an 18-6 advantage in the shots category, and put seven on frame as compared to four by the Crusaders. Schwarz stopped five shots for Valpo, while Widman made three stops. The Brown and Gold took four corner kicks while N.C. State (1-0-0) had just one.
Valparaiso (0-1-0) concludes play at the Wolfpack Classic on Sunday, Sept. 2, as the Crusaders travel down the road to Durham to take on #4/3 Duke. The game against the Blue Devils is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. CDT.