IUPUI at Valparaiso - Sunday, Sept. 13 - 4 p.m.
Valparaiso at Western Michigan - Wednesday, Sept. 16 - 3 p.m. CDT
Coming Up for the Crusaders: After playing two competitive games against nationally-ranked opponents, Valparaiso returns home to Brown Field on Sunday for a matchup against IUPUI before hitting the road for a game at Western Michigan on Wednesday.
The Matchups: The Crusaders hold an 8-6-1 record in the all-time series over IUPUI (1-2-0), but the Jaguars won last year’s meeting in Indianapolis, 3-1. Valpo got out to a 1-0 lead in that game on a goal in the 10th minute by Oscar Lomeli, but a late first-half red card against the Crusaders proved too much to overcome in the second 45 minutes, as the Jaguars scored three unanswered goals for the win.
Valpo trails the all-time series against Western Michigan (0-2-0) by a 5-11-1 count, but earned a 3-0 victory over the Broncos last year at Eastgate Field. Steve Shively notched a pair of goals in the victory, including the eventual match-winner in the 40th minute, while Zack Stivers also added a tally for the Crusaders. Kyle Zobeck made seven saves to earn the shutout in net while also picking up his first career assist.
Previously: The Crusaders battled valiantly against a pair of ranked foes within the last week, but ultimately dropped both contests, falling at home to #22/23 Michigan, 2-1, and on the road at #8/10 South Florida, 1-0 in overtime. Stivers registered the Valpo goal against the Wolverines, while Ryan Schwarz stopped seven shots at the Bulls to send the match into overtime scoreless.
Following the Crusaders: The sports staff at Valparaiso’s campus radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, will be broadcasting the match against the Jaguars live over its airwaves and online at www.valpoathletics.com, but will not be broadcasting the Western Michigan match. Both contests will have live stats links available through the official Crusader website.
Facing Ranked Foes: While the Crusaders dropped both contests last week against nationally-ranked opponents by one goal, they continued their recent tradition of remarkable defensive effort against such sides. Valpo has faced seven ranked opponents since the start of the 2007 season, and in those seven games has given up just eight goals, good for a stellar goals against average of 1.08 in those games.
Stivers Finds the Board Again: Junior Zack Stivers continued his fine play against ranked opponents on Sunday, registering the Crusaders’ goal against #22/23 Michigan, the fourth marker of his career. He also had previously tallied an assist against #13 UIC last season.
Double the Pleasure: Freshman Jaymie Bullard got his career off to a fast start against Eastern Illinois in his first career game, finding the back of the net in just the fourth minute of play. He then added another marker in the 62nd minute, becoming the first Crusader freshman to score twice in their first career match since Kent Hediger found the back of the net twice against Purdue-Calumet in 1984. It was the first multi-goal game by any Crusader since current senior Steve Shively scored twice against Western Michigan on Sept. 21 of last season.
Return to the Net: Redshirt junior Ryan Schwarz had not stepped foot on the pitch for a regular season contest for Valpo since being named Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year following the 2007 campaign, but has been solid in net for the Crusaders thus far in 2009. Through three games, including two against top-25 teams, Schwarz owns a 1.00 GAA and has stopped nearly 85% of the shots he has faced.
Roth Helps Out: Redshirt sophomore Brendan Roth registered the first point of his career on Sunday, playing a through ball to Stivers to pick up an assist on the goal against Michigan.
Protecting the Home Pitch: Valparaiso will play all seven of its home matches this year at Brown Field, also home of the Crusader football team. Valpo will look to extend to four seasons its streak of finishing with a .500 or better road record. Last year, the Crusaders posted a 4-3-1 mark in home contests, while the last two seasons have seen the two highest average home attendance marks in program history.
Tabbed Sixth: Valparaiso has been projected to finish sixth in the Horizon League this season in preseason polling of the league’s nine head coaches. UIC received six of the nine first-place votes and tallied 62 points to be tabbed the preseason favorite. Loyola registered two first-place votes en route to 56 points, while Butler received the remaining nod for the top spot, recording 49 points. Cleveland State (44 pts.) and Green Bay (38 pts.) preceded the Crusaders, who registered 25 points, in the polling. Milwaukee (22 pts.), Wright State (16 pts.) and Detroit (12 pts.) rounded out the preseason projections.