ProRehab Aces Soccer Classic - Evansville, Ind.
Valparaiso vs. Bradley - Friday, Sept. 12 - 5 p.m. CDT [Live Stats] [Audio]
Valparaiso at Evansville - Sunday, Sept. 14 - 1:30 p.m. CDT [Live Stats] [Audio]
This Weekend’s Action: The Crusaders have a challenging slate ahead of them this weekend, as they head down to Evansville, Ind. to take part in the ProRehab Aces Soccer Classic. Both Bradley (2-1-1) and Evansville (4-0-0) enter the program regionally ranked and receiving votes in the NSCAA National Top 25 poll.
The Matchups: Bradley leads the all-time series with Valparaiso by a 7-4-0 count, but it was the Crusaders who emerged with an upset victory at the Bradley Invitational on Aug. 31, 2001, as Valpo defeated the then-#17 Braves, 4-3. Bradley got on top early in the ninth minute, but Mark Korba scored in the 18th minute and Scott Daly converted a PK in the 41st minute to give Valpo a 2-1 halftime lead. Ben Olson extended the Crusader edge to two with a marker in the 53rd minute, but Bradley scored twice in the next 16 minutes to knot up the match. With under two minutes to play, however, Daly found the back of the net for the second time in the game, taking a feed from Olson for the match-winner. Marc Cilfone made ten saves to earn the win in net.
The Purple Aces are 2-1-1 all-time against Valpo, and earned a 4-0 victory over the Crusaders in Evansville on Sept. 9, 2007. The two squads played a scoreless first half of soccer, but Evansville found the back of the net four times in the final 45 minutes for the win. Mario Diaz led the Crusader offensive attack with two shots on goal.
Recapping Last Week: The Crusaders dropped two matches to former Mid-Continent Conference rivals last weekend to fall to 2-2-0 on the season.
Friday saw Valpo travel down to Indianapolis to take on IUPUI. Oscar Lomeli found the back of the net for the second time this season in the tenth minute to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead they would carry into the half. But Valpo went a man down after a red card was issued in the 40th minute, and IUPUI took advantage, scoring three times in the second half for the win.
The Crusaders got out to the lead on Sunday as well as they hosted Western Illinois, as freshman Tyler Sellers recorded his first career marker in the 22nd minute off of an assist from Brett Bermes. But the Leathernecks scored with just 16 seconds remaining in the first half to send the game into the break tied at one, and notched the eventual match-winner in the 50th minute.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will broadcast both of this weekend’s matches, with Friday’s contest being carried on www.sporstjuice.com and Sunday’s matchup going out live over the airwaves. Live stats will also be available for both of this weekend’s contests at www.valpoathletics.com. WVUR is slated to broadcast nine Crusader men’s soccer matches this season, while live stats for all Valpo home matches and select road matches can be accessed through the official Valparaiso athletics website.
Avenging Losses: This year’s Crusader squad has already avenged two losses from the 2007 campaign. Valpo opened the season with a 2-1 victory over Eastern Illinois, which had defeated the Crusaders 4-0 last year, and won 1-0 at DePaul, which had taken a 1-0 decision over Valpo in 2007. This weekend marks the third meeting with an opponent who downed the Crusaders in 2007, as Evansville beat Valpo 4-0 last year. Valpo will get the chance to take on eight of the ten opponents it lost to last year over the course of the 2008 campaign.
First Time Crossing the Goal Line: Just four matches into the 2008 campaign, two Crusaders have recorded their first career goals. Sophomore Jon Obial found the back of the net for the lone goal in Valpo’s 1-0 victory over DePaul. Freshman Tyler Sellers tallied his first career marker in his third career game, putting the Crusaders ahead early in their matchup with Western Illinois. Sellers’ goal came on his first career shot, as well.
More Firsts: Sellers’ tally against the Leathernecks also came with another first. Appearing in his 47th match in the Crusader kit, senior defender Brett Bermes was credited with the assist on Sellers’ goal, registering his first career point.
Leading the Way: Senior midfielder Paul Leitelt registered his third career match-winning goal in Valpo’s season-opening win over Eastern Illinois. For Leitelt, it marked his tenth career marker, which leads all active Crusaders.
Setup Man: Sophomore midfielder Adrian Ortiz tied for the Horizon League lead as a freshman with seven assists, and picked right up where he left off at the start of this year. Ortiz fed Leitelt with a perfect 40-yard pass for the match-winner against the Panthers, leaving him just one assist shy of Valpo’s all-time top-ten.
Converting PKs: Oscar Lomeli’s conversion of a penalty kick against Eastern Illinois extended an impressive Crusader streak. Valpo has not missed a spot kick during the run of play since 1998, a stretch of 15 consecutive successful PKs.
Picked Sixth: Valpo has been projected to finish sixth in the Horizon League this year by the league’s head coaches. UIC was a unanimous choice to win the league title, followed by Green Bay, Loyola, Butler and Milwaukee. The Crusaders were trailed by Wright State, Detroit and Cleveland State in the polling.
Tournament Teams Highlight Schedule: Four of Valpo’s 18 opponents on the 2008 slate reached the NCAA Tournament last season. The Crusaders already downed one such opponent with their victory over DePaul last Sunday. This week, the Crusaders will take on Bradley, who advanced to last year’s Elite Eight and is currently just outside the NSCAA Top 25, in a neutral-site contest, before playing at Michigan State later this year. The league schedule brings UIC, which also reached the Elite Eight last season, to Eastgate Field on October 31.