IPFW at Valpo - Friday, Sept. 7 - 5 p.m.
Valpo at Evansville - Sunday, Sept. 9 - 3 p.m. CDT
The Matchups: Valparaiso kicks off the 2007 home campaign at Eastgate Field this Friday, hosting IPFW at 5 p.m. The Crusaders follow with a game at Evansville Sunday afternoon, the first game in a four-game road trip for the Brown and Gold. Valpo holds a 9-3-0 edge in the all-time series against the Mastodons, while the Crusaders and Purple Aces have played three times, each winning once and drawing on one occasion.
Last Meetings: The Crusaders easily handled IPFW on their way to a 2-0 victory on Oct. 8, 2006 in Fort Wayne. Steve Shively netted his fourth match-winning goal of the season in the 12th minute, while Jeremy Stacy pushed across an insurance tally late in the second half. Sean McGinnis stopped two shots to earn the second shutout of his career.
Paul Leitelt completed a hat trick with a game-tying goal in the 89th minute, and assisted on Shively’s game-winner in the second extra session to give Valpo a 5-4 win over Evansville on Aug. 27, 2006. Mark Wolka tallied the other Valpo goal, as the Crusaders twice rallied from two-goal deficits on their way to the win.
Last Weekend: Valpo was tied at the half with two ACC teams, but could not pull out the win in either game, falling 2-1 at N.C. State and 2-0 at #4/3 Duke. Mario Diaz, making his first Division I appearance, netted the Crusaders’ goal against the Wolfpack. Ryan Schwarz made 14 saves on the weekend, including nine against the Blue Devils as Valpo played scoreless with Duke for 68 minutes.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will kick off its 2007 men’s soccer coverage Friday, broadcasting the Crusaders’ home opener against IPFW. WVUR is planning on carrying seven men’s soccer games this year over the airwaves, as well as any matches as part of the Horizon League Championships. The games will also be carried online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
New League...: Valparaiso moves to the Horizon League for the 2007 season after playing for 19 seasons in the Mid-Continent Conference. During their time in the Mid-Con, the Crusaders captured two regular season titles to go along with one tournament championship.
...New Faces: The new conference affiliation isn’t the only thing new for the Crusaders as they enter the 2007 campaign. Head coach Mike Avery and assistant coach Rick King are both in their first year with the program. In addition, 22 of the 32 players on the Valpo roster will be taking the pitch for the Crusaders for the first time this fall.
First-Time Matchups: Last weekend marked the first time that a Crusader squad had taken on a team from the ACC, and Valpo acquitted itself well. The Brown and Gold went into halftime of both contests tied with the power conference foes: 1-1 against N.C. State and 0-0 against #4/3 Duke. The Crusaders remained tied with the Wolfpack until the 80th minute, and did not give up their first goal against the Blue Devils until the 69th minute.
Immediate Impact: Junior midfielder Mario Diaz, one of the 20 newcomers on this year’s Crusader roster, made his presence felt immediately on Friday afternoon. Diaz, who earned NJCAA All-Region IV First Team honors during his time at South Suburban College, found the back of the net in his first Division I start against N.C. State. Diaz’s goal in the 25th minute tied the match at one, where it would stay for the next 54 minutes.
More Immediate Impact: Two other Crusader newcomers helped set up Diaz’s goal against the Wolfpack. Oscar Lomeli, an NAIA honorable mention All-American last season, took a throw-in deep in N.C. State territory and tossed it long into the box. Freshman Adrian Ortiz, who earned All-State honors as a high school senior, was there to send the ball to Diaz for the tally. Both Lomeli and Ortiz were credited with assists in their first Division I appearances.
Last Line of Defense: Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz, who recorded four shutouts and six victories in his freshman campaign, had a stellar weekend in net for the Crusaders. Schwarz stopped a league-best 14 shots over the weekend’s two matches, allowing just four goals. The sophomore tallied five saves versus N.C. State, but stepped up his game against #4/3 Duke, making several tough stops among his nine saves and not giving up a goal to the Blue Devils until the 69th minute.
Two Fifth-Year Seniors: The Crusaders do not have a large contingent of seniors, with just two on their 32-man roster, but both seniors are in their fifth year of collegiate soccer. Sean McGinnis has filled the backup goalkeeper position well in his time at Valpo, with a 1.54 GAA, while Tyler Pagano has started 30 matches in the midfield in his two years with the Crusaders.