A historic day in Valparaiso athletics history ended in a tie Sunday afternoon, as the Crusader men’s soccer team fought to a 1-1 double overtime draw with 2006 Horizon League champion Loyola at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. The match marked the first League contest for any Valpo team since the school joined the Horizon League on July 1, 2007.
“I think that it was a very exciting game today and that all the fans got their money’s worth,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “Playing the defending conference champion and getting a tie is a good result for us.”
The first half was contested primarily in Valpo’s defensive end, as the Ramblers picked up most of the scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes. They out-shot the Crusaders 10-3 in the first stanza and took five corner kicks, but could not put a mark on the board, as Valpo netminder Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) made four saves to keep the game a scoreless tie going into the half. It marked the fifth consecutive game that the Crusaders have held their opponent scoreless through halftime.
Both teams had good scoring opportunities early on in the second period, but it was Valpo that finally broke through for a goal in the 60th minute. Adrian Ortiz (Berwyn, Ill./Morton West) fed Jake Freisinger (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central) in the box. Freisinger put a shot on goal saved by Loyola keeper Brian Byrne, but the rebound bounced to Steve Shively (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central), who found the back of the net to put the Crusaders on top.
Valpo’s chances to earn the win looked even brighter mere seconds later, as Loyola’s Zach Lewis received his second yellow card of the match, resulting in his ejection from the contest and leaving the Ramblers a man down for the duration of the match. But Loyola didn’t stop attacking, eventually netting the tying goal with just three minutes to play in regulation when Michael Ferguson redirected a ball from Willie Koss in the box.
“I thought Loyola did a very good job when they went a man down of continuing to push the game,” said Avery. “We have to learn how to better manage games, both when we’re up on the scoreboard and up a man on the field.”
The overtime sessions saw Loyola (2-2-2, 0-0-1 Horizon) take three shots to Valpo’s two, with both goalkeepers being forced to make just one save. The best scoring opportunity came about halfway through the second extra session, when Zack Stivers (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) found himself one-on-one on the left side of the box with Byrne, but he sent his shot wide to the right.
For the game, the Ramblers out-shot the Crusaders by a 22-13 margin, placing nine shots on goal to Valpo’s six. Schwarz made eight saves for the Brown and Gold, while Byrne made five stops.
“Overall, it was a good performance,” said Avery. “At times, we had six and seven freshmen out on the field, getting on-the-job training and they’re growing up very quickly. We did a good job and will look to get better from here as League play continues.”
Valparaiso (1-4-1, 0-0-1 Horizon) concludes a four-game road trip this coming Friday, as the Crusaders travel to Western Illinois to take on their former conference foe. First kick is slated for 4 p.m.