Horizon League Semifinal - #3 Valparaiso vs. #2 Green Bay - Friday, Nov. 13 - 11 a.m. CST - Indianapolis, Ind.
The Action: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team will attempt to advance to the finals of the Horizon League Championship as the third-seeded Crusaders take on second-seeded Green Bay in semifinal action Friday in Indianapolis.
The Matchup: Valpo (10-6-2) trails the all-time series with Green Bay (13-2-2) by a 9-2-0 margin, but the Crusaders earned their first victory over the Phoenix since 1991 with a 3-2 overtime win at Brown Field on Oct. 17 of this year. Brendan Roth scored the golden goal in the 98th minute after Green Bay tied up the match with just 1:36 to play in regulation. Sam Haines and Roby Del Giudice also found the back of the net for the Crusaders, while Del Giudice joined four other Valpo players in tallying assists on the day.
Previously: The Crusaders set a new program record for victories in a single season with their tenth win of the 2009 season, defeating Milwaukee 4-0 Tuesday at Brown Field in Horizon League Championship quarterfinal action. Brendan Roth scored twice on the afternoon, including the eventual match-winner in the seventh minute, while Zack Stivers and Kelvin Zelee also added insurance tallies. Ryan Schwarz made six saves in goal to earn his seventh shutout of the season, a new Valpo single-season record for clean sheets.
Where Do They Go From Here?: If the Crusaders advance past the Phoenix on Friday, they would find themselves in the championship match on Sunday at noon CST in Indianapolis. The other semifinal pits top-seeded Butler against fourth-seeded Cleveland State.
Crusaders in the HL Championship: Valpo improved to 1-2-0 all-time in Horizon League Championship action with its win on Tuesday, following first-round defeats in both 2007 and 2008. In fact, the Crusaders’ win over the Panthers made this year’s squad only the second in Valpo men’s soccer history to earn a victory in postseason play, joining the 1996 team which won two contests en route to the Mid-Con Tournament title.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR will be unable to broadcast the semifinal match on Friday or, if the Crusaders advance, the championship on Sunday, but there are still multiple options available for following the Crusaders. Visit www.valpoathletics.com for live video links through the Horizon League Network to watch the semifinal match live at 11 a.m. CST on Friday. Live stat links will also be available through the official Crusader athletic website.
Turning a Program Around: This year’s Crusader squad has already put together maybe the finest overall season in program history. With Tuesday’s win, Valpo set a new program standard for single-season victories with its tenth win of the year and will also finish above .500 for only the second time in program history. This year’s team is right up there with the 1987 squad as well for the stingiest defense in school history, as the ‘87 team gave up 16 goals in 16 games while this year’s Crusaders have surrendered just 18 goals in 18 contests.
Unbeaten in Six: Valpo is 5-0-1 over its last six contests, setting a new record for the longest unbeaten streak in program history. The Crusaders have not lost since Oct. 11, with their only draw during that time frame coming at UIC Oct. 31. The 1997 Valparaiso squad previously held the mark with a five-match unbeaten streak.
Individual Recognition: Valparaiso had five players honored as the Horizon League recognized its postseason award recipients earlier this week. Ryan Schwarz earned Goalkeeper of the Year accolades for the second time in three years and was a member of the All-League First Team. Stefan Antonijevic, Adrian Ortiz and Steve Shively all represented the Crusaders on the All-League Second Team, while Jaymie Bullard appeared on the league’s All-Newcomer Team.
Finding the Offense: The Crusaders picked the perfect time to come up with their top offensive performance of the season, scoring a season-high four goals in the quarterfinal win over Milwaukee. In fact, Valpo’s four tallies in that contest were the most in a single match since a 5-4 (2ot) win over Evansville on Aug. 27, 2006.
Two-Time Goalie of the Year: Redshirt junior Ryan Schwarz earned Goalkeeper of the Year honors from the Horizon League for the second time in as many seasons that he’s played (missed 2008 due to injury), and then went out later that afternoon and shut out Milwaukee to set a new Valpo single-season record with seven shutouts. Schwarz, who has given up just one goal in Valpo’s last five games, is on pace to shatter the Crusader single-season mark for goals against average, carrying an 0.97 GAA into the semifinals. He also is looking to set a new career high for save percentage, currently sitting at .800.
Shively Moving Up the Charts: Senior forward Steve Shively has continued his march up Valpo’s all-time goals and points charts this year. Most recently, Shively found the back of the net twice against IPFW, giving him five goals on the season and 18 for his career, tied for sixth-most in Crusader history. The pair of markers also gave him 14 points on the season and 41 for his career, tied for eighth-most all-time at Valpo.
Stivers Finds the Goal: Junior midfielder Zack Stivers, who had just three career goals entering this year, racked up his sixth marker of the year against Milwaukee, a key insurance tally that gave Valpo a two-goal lead. Stivers, who is tied for fifth in the league in goals scored this year, also has picked up a pair of assists this season to tie for team-high honors with 14 points.
Twice as Nice: Redshirt sophomore Brendan Roth found the back of the net twice against Milwaukee, the fifth time this year a Crusader has had a multi-goal game. Shively had a pair of two-goal efforts at IPFW and at Wright State, while Adrian Ortiz scored Valpo’s two goals against Cleveland State and Bullard kicked off his career with a two-goal game at Eastern Illinois.