Valparaiso (6-1-1, 1-1-0 Horizon)
Crusaders hit the road for pair of Horizon League games
Friday, Oct. 1 - 3 p.m. CT - at #14/15 Butler (7-0-0, 2-0-0 Horizon)
Sunday, Oct. 3 - 6 p.m. - Loyola (2-5-1, 2-0-0 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso continues Horizon League play with a two-match road trip this weekend, traveling to nationally-ranked Butler on Friday before making the short trip to Chicago to face Loyola on Sunday.
Wrapping Up Last Week: The Crusaders began the league slate last weekend with a pair of matches at Brown Field. Valpo saw its six-match unbeaten streak to start the season snapped Friday with a 2-1 overtime loss to Milwaukee, but rebounded on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Wright State. The win was the Crusaders’ first over the Raiders in program history.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will not be broadcasting either of this weekend’s matches, picking up coverage of Valpo men’s soccer on October 6 against Western Illinois. Live stats for both of this weekend’s match will be available at www.valpoathletics.com, however.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Crusaders in 2010 after guiding the Crusaders to a school record 10 victories and a third-place Horizon League finish in 2009. In his first three seasons, Avery has led Valpo to three of the best defensive seasons in school history, including allowing just 21 goals a year ago, second-fewest in program history. Avery has already coached a pair of Goalkeeper of the Year selections and 10 All-League honorees in his three seasons.
Series Notes: Butler - Valpo trails 1-12-0 (0-3-0 under Avery); last meeting 2-1 Butler @ Valpo 10/11/09 [Shively 22’; Schwarz 6 saves; Butler goals 66’, 69’]
Loyola - Valpo trails 2-12-3 (0-2-2 under Avery); last meeting 1-1 (2ot) draw @ Valpo 9/27/09 [Stivers 64’; Lyons assist; Schwarz 5 saves; Loyola goal 18’]
Scouting the Opposition: Butler is climbing the national rankings this year and is one of just three teams nationally with an undefeated, untied record this season, entering this weekend at 7-0-0. The Bulldogs have tallied an impressive 18 goals through seven games, led by 13 points (5g, 3a) from Ben Sippola and 9 points (4g, 1a) by Matt Hedges, the reigning nationaly player of the week. Fabian Knopfler has played every second in net, surrendering just three goals on the season.
Loyola is just 2-5-1 so far this year, but won both matches in its first weekend of league play, defeating Detroit (1-0) and Cleveland State (3-0). Eric Nock tallied a hat trick in the latter match for three of his team-best foul goals this season, while James Howes has picked up three assists. Peter McKeown has seen all the action in goal, giving up 10 goals in the Ramblers’ first eight games.
Unbeaten Streak Comes to An End: With the loss Friday to Milwaukee, Valpo saw its six-match unbeaten streak snapped. The six-match streak without a loss matched the previous longest stretch in program history, set by last year’s side from Oct. 17 through Nov. 10.
Still on a Hot Streak, Though: Despite Friday’s loss, the Crusaders are still experiencing an unprecedented level of success. Dating back to Valpo’s October 17 win over Green Bay last season, the Crusaders have taken to the pitch 15 times and hold an 11-2-2 record over that stretch.
Best Start in Program History: By virtue of the Crusaders’ scoreless draw with Florida Gulf Coast on Sept. 12, the 2010 squad had posted the best start to a season in program history. This year’s side matched the 1987 and 2006 teams with three straight wins to start the season and became the first Valpo squad to earn a result in each of the first four matches of the year.
Facing Nationally Ranked Foes: Friday will mark the ninth time in Avery’s three-plus seasons at the helm of the Crusader program that Valpo has taken on a nationally-ranked side. The Crusaders are just 1-5-2 in those contests, but have been within one goal in three of the five losses. Valpo has a possible shot at another nationally-ranked opponent later this season when the Crusaders travel to take on Ohio State.
Crusaders Regionally Ranked: Valparaiso set another program mark this week, remaining in the NSCAA Great Lakes regional rankings for the third straight week. The Crusaders came in at ninth position in this week’s polling, tied with Michigan. This season marks just the second time in program history Valpo has been regionally ranked, joining the 2006 side.
No Margin for Error: Six of Valpo’s first eight games this season have been one-goal games or draws, continuing a trend of “close” games throughout Avery’s tenure, a trend which has turned in Valpo’s favor recently:
2007 - 13 of 18 matches, Valpo went 3-7-3
2008 - 12 of 19 matches, Valpo went 3-6-3
2009 - 13 of 19 matches, Valpo went 6-5-2
2010 - 6 of 8 matches, Valpo 4-1-1
Four of those games have gone overtime, while another was decided in the 88th minute. In Horizon League play, the two-goal win over Wright State Sunday marked just the fourth time in 26 games since joining the league that Valpo has played a game not decided by one goal or less.
Defense Still Strong: While the Crusaders surrendered three goals last weekend after giving up just one goal in the season’s first six games, they still maintained spots in the top-15 in national rankings in a number of defensive categories. Valpo has posted five shutouts in eight games to date, good for a .625 shutout percentage, tied for seventh nationally. The Crusaders also rank 12th nationwide in both save percentage (.886) and goals against average (0.48).
Schwarz a Mainstay in Goal: While fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz saw his personal shutout streak of 323:09 come to an end last weekend, he was in net for the Crusaders’ first-ever win over Wright State and still maintained a spot among the nation’s goalkeeping leaders. Schwarz currently holds a 0.53 GAA, 18th best nationally, and ranks 11th in the nation with an .885 save percentage, the best mark in the Horizon League. He also is moving up the Valpo career saves chart, needing just 11 more stops to move into fourth in program history.
Remember Me?: Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck, who sat out last season after Schwarz’s return from injury, has split time with the elder netminder this year and has returned just as strong in net. Zobeck has given up just one goal through two and a half games en route to a 1-0-1 record, and earned his first shutout since Nov. 2, 2008 on Sept. 12 in the scoreless draw with Florida Gulf Coast. Zobeck currently ranks first in the Horizon League in GAA (0.36) and second in save percentage (.875).
Stivers Scoring Goals: Senior forward Zack Stivers found the back of the net twice last weekend, scoring once in each game, both on penalty kicks. The pair of successful spot kicks gives the senior five career penalty kick goals on six attempts. Stivers now has three goals this year to give him 12 career goals, just four shy of breaking into Valpo’s all-time top-10 in the category.
Game-Winners Galore: Junior forward Guy Shabtay has found the back of the net twice this season and has made both markers count. He scored on a free kick in the 20th minute against Wright State Sunday for the eventual match-winner after previously netting a game-winning goal in Valpo’s season opener at UNLV. Shabtay is the first Crusader newcomer to score multiple match-winners in his first season wearing the Valpo kit since Steve Shively tallied four GWG as a freshman in 2006.
Ortiz On the Assist: It had been nearly two full calendar years since senior midfielder Adrian Ortiz tallied his last assist for the Crusaders, until the senior helped out on Antonijevic’s tally against the Broncos on Sept. 10. Ortiz then picked up another assist on a corner kick for the Crusaders’ first goal against BGSU Sept. 19, giving him 11 career assists, ninth-most in Valpo history.
Smith Hits the Scoresheet: Sophomore defender Jonathon Smith registered his first career point on Sunday with a magnificent assist. Smith took a free kick at midfield in the 8th minute against Wright State and sent it 55 yards in the air into the 6-yard box, where it was headed home for the game’s opening tally. Smith earned the point in his 22nd career game and 10th career start.
Repeat Scorers: Two weekends ago, a trio of Crusaders scored their first goals of the season. Last weekend, Valpo tallied four goals, all four of which were by players who had already scored earlier this season. Stivers netted a pair of goals, while Shabtay scored his second of the year. Redshirt junior midfielder Stefan Antonijevic opened the scoring against Wright State with his second goal of the year as well.
Antonijevic Earns Honor in Return: Antonijevic earned MVP honors at the Marquette Invitational after scoring the Crusaders’ goal against Santa Clara and dominating the midfield in both matches. It was especially appropriate that it would be Antonijevic to take top honors, as the junior spent his freshman season playing for Marquette before transferring.
Del Giudice Doubles Up: Senior midfielder Roby Del Giudice doubled his career goal total after netting both Crusader tallies in the win over UC Riverside Sept. 6. The two-goal game is the only multi-goal game by a Valpo player this season after five such efforts a year ago.