This Weekend’s Action: Valparaiso carries a two-match unbeaten streak into the start of Horizon League play, as the Crusaders close out a three-match homestand by hosting Milwaukee on Friday afternoon and Wright State on Sunday afternoon.
The Matchups: Valparaiso has faced Milwaukee just twice in program history and improved its record against the Panthers to 0-1-1 with a 1-1 (2ot) draw on Sept. 29, 2007 in Milwaukee, Wis. Milwaukee got on the board first on that day, scoring in the 16th minute, but Steve Shively knotted up the match for good in the 78th minute with his third goal of the year. Ryan Schwarz stopped nine shots in net to preserve the draw for the Crusaders.
Wright State has defeated Valpo all six times that the two programs have met on the pitch, including twice last year in Valpo’s inaugural season in the Horizon League. Most recently, the Crusaders traveled to Dayton on Nov. 9, 2007 for the first round of the Horizon League Championship, where the host Raiders pulled out a 2-1 victory on the strength of two goals in the first 12 minutes. Shively cut Valpo’s deficit in half with his fifth goal of the year in the 58th minute.
Recapping Last Week: Valparaiso went 1-0-1 last weekend as it closed out the pre-Horizon League slate.
The Crusaders traveled to Missouri State on Friday and came away with a 1-1 (2ot) draw against a Bears squad that tied #2 Akron the previous weekend. Missouri State went on top in the 11th minute, but the Crusaders dominated the run of play in the second half and it paid off in the form of a Paul Leitelt goal in the 88th minute. Kyle Zobeck made seven saves in net for Valpo.
Valpo returned to Eastgate Field on Sunday and put together a dominating 90-minute performance against Western Michigan, defeating the Broncos 3-0. Steve Shively netted his first two goals of the season while Zack Stivers also tallied his first marker of the 2008 campaign. Zobeck made seven saves and also added an assist on Shively’s second goal.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will be broadcasting both of the Crusaders’ matches from Eastgate Field this weekend. Live audio streaming of both matches will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com, as well as live statistics for both of the weekend’s tilts. 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: Entering the 2008 season, Valparaiso had rematches with eight of the ten teams that it lost to during the 2007 campaign. The Crusaders have already faced all four non-league foes that they had rematches with, and have acquitted themselves quite well, winning against Eastern Illinois (2-1), DePaul (1-0) and Western Michigan (3-0). Only Evansville has defeated Valpo each of the last two years.
Finding the Back of the Net: After suffering seven shutouts during the 2007 season, the Crusader offense is putting goals on the board consistently in the 2008 campaign. Valpo has scored in each of its first eight matches of the season and already has 11 goals this year, just three shy of last year’s total of 14. The Crusaders are also the only Horizon League squad not to suffer a shutout in 2008.
Zobeck Stopping Shots: Freshman goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck has made his mark on the Crusaders just eight matches into his first season. Zobeck has already tallied three shutouts, tied for seventh-most in Crusader history, and ranks among the top-five in the Horizon League in both goals against average (1.22) and save percentage (.815). He also became the first Valpo netminder since 2001 to record an assist, picking up a helper Sunday against Western Michigan.
Back on the Scoresheet: Junior forward Steve Shively tallied nine goals through his first two seasons, but had been kept off the register until Sunday, when he broke through for two goals against Western Michigan. The first multi-goal game of his career included the match-winner in the 40th minute, his sixth match-winning marker in his three years.
Setting Down Ranked Foes: Valparaiso’s win over #25/RV Bradley on Sept. 12 was the first time in six seasons that the Crusaders had defeated a top-25 opponent. Valpo downed then-#22 Wisconsin on Sept. 13, 2002 by a 2-1 count in Valparaiso. This season’s win over the Braves is the second straight positive result for Valpo against ranked teams, following a 1-1 tie with #19/17 Michigan State last year on Oct. 21.
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 have already downed the first two such opponents they have faced, defeating DePaul (1-0) on Aug. 31 and #25/RV Bradley (1-0), which advanced to the 2007 Elite Eight, on Sept. 12. Later this year, Valpo will play at Michigan State before welcoming UIC, which also reached the Elite Eight last season, to Eastgate Field on October 31.