Playing with just three days of preseason training under its belt, the Valparaiso men’s soccer team opened exhibition play Saturday at Eastgate Field with a solid 1-0 victory over Indianapolis on a goal in the 98th minute by Steve Shively (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central).
“I thought this was a very good day for us, given we’ve only had a couple days to work together as a group,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “There were some very good things that came out of today, but also some things we saw that we need to work on, making this game just like any other good training session.”
While the Crusaders controlled the pace of play throughout much of regulation time, neither team could find the back of the net. Valpo out-shot Indianapolis 17-7 in the first 90 minutes, including a 9-2 edge in shots on goal. Reigning Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) had to make just one save in his 63 minutes of action, while Indianapolis starting keeper Michael Crane stopped five shots in just under 67 minutes in net.
The two teams had agreed prior to the game to play a 20-minute overtime period regardless of the score after regulation, but the extra time proved necessary when the two teams ended 90 minutes without a goal. Nearing the midway point of the extra session, the Crusaders gained possession in their end and Shively came up with the ball just outside the 18-yard box. After losing control for a second, the junior regained the ball, turned, and fired a right-footed blast to the upper-right corner past Greyhound netminder Justin Roberts for the game’s only tally.
Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) earned the victory in net for the Crusaders, playing the final 47 minutes and making one save. Roberts took the loss for Indianapolis, but stopped five shots in just over 43 minutes in net. Valpo had 12 different players fire shots and ended the game with 20 total shots, 11 of which were on goal.
“I thought Indianapolis played well today,” said Avery. “We really did a good job controlling them and limiting their opportunities. It’s very clear after today that we have plenty of depth, which as coaches is a good problem to have.”
Valparaiso continues exhibition action Wednesday, as the Crusaders head east to take on St. Francis (Pa.) in Loretto, Pa. Kickoff is slated for 12 noon.