1st Round - Horizon League Championship
#7 Valparaiso at #6 Wright State - Friday, Nov. 9 - 6 p.m. CST
The Matchup: Valparaiso kicks off the Horizon League Championship this week with a first-round contest at Wright State. The Crusaders enter the championship as the seventh seed after going 2-4-2 in league play, while the Raiders are the sixth seed with a 3-5-0 league record. Wright State has won each of the five previous meetings between the two teams.
Last Meeting: Neither Valparaiso nor Wright State could dent the scoreboard for the first 109 minutes of action Oct. 28 in Dayton, Ohio, but the Raiders found the back of the net with just 22 seconds remaining in the second overtime period to win the game, 1-0. The Crusaders were forced to play the final 50 minutes of the game a man down. Crusader goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz continued his stellar play in net, stopping a career-best 11 shots on the day.
Last Week: Valpo closed out the regular season with two more defensive battles, dropping a tight 1-0 (2ot) decision at UIC before defeating Cleveland State by the same score at Eastgate Field. Ryan Schwarz made five stops in net over the two matches, lowering his season goals against average to 1.55. Oscar Lomeli found the back of the net against the Vikings for his second marker of the season and first match-winning goal as a Crusader.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will not be broadcasting Friday’s match at Wright State, but live stats and video from Wright State will be available online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. If the Crusaders were to advance to the quarterfinals Sunday against UIC, WVUR would be broadcasting the game live over the airwaves and online.
Road to the Championship: Valparaiso’s road to a possible Horizon League championship will be contested completely away from Eastgate Field. The good news for the Crusaders is that they played regular season contests at both Wright State, their first round opponent, and UIC, their possible second round opponent. Valpo played right with both the Raiders and Flames on their home pitches during the regular season matchups, dropping 1-0 (2ot) decisions to both.
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.
Getting It Done Defensively: Valparaiso has asserted itself as a very solid defensive team throughout the 2007 season, and has stepped it up a notch on the back line in recent games. 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. Over its last nine games, Valpo has shut out two opponents and held five other foes to just one marker.
Schwarz Named Goalkeeper of the Year: Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz earned the Horizon League’s top honor for goalies earlier this week, being named its Goalkeeper of the Year. Schwarz has stood out in net for the Crusaders, leading the league with 84 saves. His average of 5.25 saves/match ranks 17th nationally. He is poised to become Valpo’s single-season goals against average leader (1.55) and has lowered his GAA to 1.02 in loop contests.
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 Adrian Ortiz continues to move up Valpo’s single-season assist chart. Ortiz recorded an assist on Lomeli’s marker against the Vikings, his seventh helper of the season. The freshman leads all Horizon League players in assists and currently is tied for second in a single season in Valpo history in the category.
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 and has already registered a shutout in 2007, while Tyler Pagano has started 38 matches in the midfield in his three years as a Crusader, tallying his first goal in a Valpo uniform earlier this year at IPFW.