Eastern Illinois at Valparaiso - Friday, August 29 - 4 p.m.
Valparaiso at DePaul - Sunday, August 31 - 5 p.m.
This Weekend’s Action: Valparaiso kicks off the 2008 campaign Friday by hosting Eastern Illinois. It will be Poster Giveaway Day at Eastgate Field, and in addition, the first 20 students through the gate will receive free T-shirts. The Crusaders continue the season Sunday at DePaul.
The Matchups: The Crusaders own a 1-10-1 all-time record against Eastern Illinois. The last meeting came on Oct. 7, 2007 in Charleston, Ill., where the Panthers earned a 4-0 victory over Valpo. Zack Stivers attempted five shots on the day to lead the Crusader offense, while Sean McGinnis did not allow a goal in 22 minutes in net.
Valpo will face DePaul for the 21st time, the second most-common opponent in program history. The Blue Demons hold an 11-6-3 edge in the all-time series over Valpo, and took a 1-0 decision from the Crusaders in Chicago, Ill. on Sept. 14, 2007 in the last meeting between the two sides. Ryan Schwarz made two saves against the Blue Demons, who ended last season with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Recapping the Exhibition Season: The Crusaders ended their exhibition campaign undefeated, earning a win and a tie in preseason play.
The exhibition season opened Aug. 16 at Eastgate Field against Indianapolis with a 1-0 victory for Valpo. The Crusaders continued building on their defensive prowess of a year ago, allowing the Greyhounds just two shots on goal for the match. Steve Shively hit the board for Valpo in the 98th minute for the match’s only tally.
Valpo stepped up to D-1 competition four days later, hitting the road to take on Saint Francis (Pa.) and earning a 1-1 tie. Paul Leitelt scored from about 20 yards out midway through the second half for the match-tying goal, getting assists from Rodolfo Lucas and Jon Obial on the tally.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will not be broadcasting either of this weekend’s matches, but live stats will be available for both matches 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.
2007 Season in Review: Under first-year head coach Mike Avery, the Crusaders started a turnaround in their program. While the turnaround might not be reflected in the 2007 final record (4-11-3 overall, 2-4-2 Horizon), Valpo put together a number of building blocks to put the program into a good position for the future. With 22 newcomers among the team’s 32 players, the Crusaders came together quickly, especially on the defensive end of the field. Goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz set a program record for single-season goals against average, and the team allowed just 28 goals, the third-fewest in a single campaign in program history.
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. In non-league action, the Crusaders will play at DePaul and Michigan State, while taking on Elite Eight participant Bradley in a neutral-site contest. The league schedule brings UIC, which also reached the Elite Eight last season, to Eastgate Field on October 31.
Re-Claiming Eastgate: The Crusaders closed out their five-game slate at Eastgate Field last season 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. This year’s schedule features eight matches at Eastgate Field.
Reigning Goalkeeper of the Year: Junior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz earned the Horizon League’s top honor for goalies in 2007, being named its Goalkeeper of the Year. Schwarz stood out in net for the Crusaders last season, leading the league with 89 saves. His average of 5.24 saves/match ranked 17th nationally. He set a new Crusader record for single-season goals against average at 1.57, and lowered his GAA to 1.02 in loop contests.
Shively Finds the Net: Junior forward Steve Shively found the back of the net a team-high five times in 2007. One of his goals was a game-winner, while three others helped the Crusaders to 1-1 draws. Shively now has nine career markers through two seasons, with five of them being match-winning goals.
Lomeli Receives Accolade: Senior forward Oscar Lomeli closed out the 2007 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: Sophomore midfielder Adrian Ortiz concluded his first season as a Crusader with a team-best seven assists. Ortiz finished the campaign tied for the Horizon League lead in the category and ranked 54th nationally with 0.39 assists/contest. His seven helpers are tied for second-most in a single season in Valpo history, and Ortiz sits just two assists shy of the career top-10.