The Crusaders carried the early action, attempting the first three shots of the contest, including the shot which opened the scoring late in the 14th minute. Zack Stivers (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) got possession of the ball in the 18-yard box and found Leitelt just outside the box on the left side. Leitelt took the feed and fired an attempt towards the far post that eluded Flame netminder Jovan Bubonja for his third goal of the season.
But less than six minutes later, the Flames responded with the tying tally. On a free kick from distance, UIC’s Kevin Stoll dropped the ball off for Baggio Husidic, who fired a long shot from approximately 35 yards in the middle of the field. The shot tailed towards the left-hand post and got past Valpo goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) to knot up the match.
The remainder of the first half was contested primarily in the middle third, as just seven shots were attempted between the two squads in the opening 45 minutes. UIC started to turn up the pressure early in the second half, forcing Zobeck to make a couple early saves in the second stanza.
The Flames got the eventual match-winning goal in the 69th minute. Stoll possessed inside the 18-yard box and fired a shot that Zobeck, who had come out to cut down the angle, turned away. But the rebound got away from the freshman netminder, and UIC’s Derek Huffman, who had entered the match less than seven minutes earlier, picked up the ball and found the wide-open net to put UIC ahead for good. Clayton Lyons (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) had the best chances at the equalizer for Valpo, sending a shot on frame that Bubonja saved in the 79th minute and also firing a shot that was blocked by a UIC defender in the waning seconds.
The 13th-ranked Flames ended the game with a slight 11-9 edge in shot attempts and put seven on frame to Valpo’s two. Zobeck made five saves, while Bubonja had to make just one in the victory for UIC (11-2-4, 5-1-1 Horizon). The Crusaders did end the contest with a decided 6-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Valparaiso (5-9-3, 0-6-1 Horizon) closes out the regular season at Brown Field on Sunday, November 2 against Detroit at 1 p.m. It will be Senior Day at Brown Field, the final home match in the career of six Crusader seniors. Prior to the match at 10 a.m., the program will be hosting a pancake breakfast at the ARC to honor the senior class and to serve as a final milestone in the Crusader’s Extra Mile fundraising campaign.