Valparaiso (6-3-1, 1-3-0 Horizon)
Crusaders break up road trip; return to Horizon League play
Wednesday, Oct. 6 - 7 p.m. - Western Illinois (2-5-3, 0-1-1 Summit)
Saturday, Oct. 9 - 6 p.m. CT - at Cleveland State (4-6-0, 2-2-0 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso takes a brief break from the road, returning home Wednesday to take on Western Illinois in non-league action. The Crusaders then continue their travels, which take them to Cleveland State for a Horizon League showdown on Saturday.
Wrapping Up Last Week: The Crusaders suffered a pair of one-goal defeats in Horizon League action last weekend. Valpo fell at nationally-ranked Butler Friday in double overtime, 1-0, on a goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game before succumbing by the same score in regulation at Loyola on Sunday evening.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will be broadcasting the Crusaders’ Wednesday night match against Western Illinois live from Brown Field, but will not be carrying Saturday’s contest at Cleveland State. The audio broadcast can also be heard online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats for both of this week’s matches.
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: Western Illinois - Valpo trails 6-16-1 (1-1-0 under Avery); Valpo’s most common opponent all-time; last meeting 2-1 WIU @ Valpo 9/7/08 [Sellers 22’; Bermes assist; Zobeck 4 saves; WIU goals 45’, 50’]
Cleveland State - Valpo trails 3-9-0 (2-1-0 under Avery); last meeting 2-1 Valpo @ Valpo 11/7/09 [Ortiz 66’, 71’; Del Giudice, Lucas, Lyons, Miller assists; Schwarz 3 saves; CSU goal 53’]
Scouting the Opposition: Western Illinois enters Wednesday night’s match at 2-5-3 overall on the year. The Leathernecks have been led offensively by Husref Jupic, who has tallied two goals and two assists on the season. In goal, Andy Ryan has played every second, posting a 1.39 GAA.
Cleveland State enters the week at 4-6-0 overall and 2-2-0 in Horizon League play. The Vikings saw their home unbeaten streak, which was nearing three full years, come to an end Sunday at the hands of Milwaukee. John Wargo has a team-best three goals on the season and has also added an assist, while Manual Conde has added two goals and two assists. Brad Stuver has a 1.67 GAA in goal for the Vikings this season.
Unbeaten Streak Comes to An End: With its loss to Milwaukee Sept. 24, Valpo saw its six-match unbeaten streak to open the 2010 season 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.
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.
Getting Back to Nonleague Action: Four of Valpo’s next five matches are outside of Horizon League play, perhaps a welcome site for the Crusader squad. Valpo is 5-0-1 this season in non-league action while owning just a 1-3-0 record to date in league play.
Crusaders Regionally Ranked: For the first time in four weeks, the Crusaders have fallen out of the NSCAA Great Lakes Region rankings, but are still receiving votes for the regional top-10. The three straight weeks Valpo spent among the top-10 in the region marked the longest such stretch in program history.
No Margin for Error: Eight of Valpo’s first 10 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 - 8 of 10 matches, Valpo 4-3-1
Five 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 Sept. 26 marked just the fourth time in 28 games since joining the league that Valpo has played a game not decided by one goal or less.
1-nil: After a pair of 1-0 losses in league play last weekend, this year’s Crusader squad has already played five 1-0 games this season, winning their first three before dropping the last two. They are already just one 1-0 game shy of matching the most 1-0 games in a single season in program history, as the 2007 side played six 1-0 contests, going 2-4 in those games.
Defense Still Strong: Despite surrendering at least one goal in each of its last four games, Valpo’s defensive numbers remain among the best in the nation. The Crusaders have a team GAA this season of 0.57, good for 15th nationally, and their team save percentage of .864 ranks 16th in the nation. In addition, Valpo has posted shutouts in half its matches this season, tied for the 19th best rate in the nation.
Schwarz a Mainstay in Goal: While fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz saw his personal shutout streak of 323:09 come to an end two weekends ago, 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, who gave up just two goals in two games last weekend in a pair of tough-luck losses, currently holds a 0.64 GAA, 23rd best nationally, and ranks 22nd in the nation with an .857 save percentage. He also is moving up the Valpo career saves chart, needing just four more stops to move into fourth in program history.
Stivers Scoring Goals: Senior forward Zack Stivers found the back of the net twice two weekends back, 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 Sept. 26 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 Sept. 26 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: Three weekends ago, a trio of Crusaders scored their first goals of the season. The very next 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.