Valparaiso (7-8-2, 1-6-0 Horizon)
Crusaders close out 2010 season with pair of home games
Wednesday, Nov. 3 - 7 p.m. - Eastern Illinois (4-10-1, 1-4-1 MVC)
Saturday, Nov. 6 - 7 p.m. - Detroit (7-7-2, 4-3-0 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso closes out the 2010 season with a pair of home matches at Brown Field this week. The Crusaders will face Eastern Illinois in non-league action Wednesday night before wrapping up the year with a Horizon League game against Detroit.
Wrapping Up Last Week: Playing UIC on Halloween for the fourth straight season, the Crusaders tied up the fixture midway through the second half, but ultimately fell to the Flames on a goal in the 106th minute, 2-1.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR, 95.1 FM will be broadcasting both of this week’s matches live over its airwaves. The audio will also be available online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats for both contests. In addition, live video of the Eastern Illinois match through the Horizon League Network will be available on the official Crusader website.
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: Eastern Illinois - Crusaders trail series 3-10-1 (2-1-0 under Avery); last meeting 2-0 Valpo at EIU 9/1/09 (Bullard 4’, 62’; Perkins assist; Shively assist; Schwarz 4 saves; Bullard becomes first Crusader freshman to score 2 goals in first career match since 1984)
Detroit - Valpo trails series 6-8-0 (3-0-0 under Avery); last meeting 1-0 Valpo at Detroit 9/25/09 (Del Giudice 34’; Stivers assist; Schwarz 4 saves)
Scouting the Opposition: Eastern Illinois enters Wednesday’s fixture at 4-10-1 this year, including a 1-4-1 mark in Missouri Valley play. The Panthers have scored just eight goals this season, getting a team-best eight points (2g, 4a) from Ryan Child. Sean Molony has played all but 57 minutes in goal for EIU and holds a 1.02 GAA and an .835 save percentage.
Detroit comes into the final week of regular season play with a 7-7-2 record, including a 4-3-0 record in Horizon League action. The Titans, who play Oakland in non-league action before wrapping up the regular season against the Crusaders, have found the back of the net 23 times this season, including a combined 13 markers from Ya Ya Toure (7g, 2a) and Sam Seppo (6g). Three goalkeepers have split time in net for Detroit, with the majority of minutes going to Brandon Waterstradt, who owns a 1.17 GAA and an .840 save percentage to go with a 7-2-1 record.
Plenty Still to Play For: While the Crusaders have been eliminated from contention for a berth in the Horizon League Championship, there still is plenty the team can accomplish over their last two matches. Valpo already has seven wins on the season, tied for fourth-most in a single season in school history, and can move as high as a tie for second on that chart if it closes with two more wins. They also still have a shot at finishing either above .500, which only has happened twice in program history (1987, 2009), or at .500, which only has happened once (1984).
Look at the Single-Season Record Book: Valpo has given up just 16 goals so far this season, a mark that if it could hold through the year’s final two matches would match the fewest goals surrendered in a single season in program history. Both Ryan Schwarz and Kyle Zobeck currently hold GAAs lower than Schwarz’s program single-season best, but neither has enough minutes to qualify for the chart yet, with Schwarz 128 minutes away. Offensively, Adrian Ortiz could move into the single-season top-10 for assists if he tallies a pair of helpers this week.
The Senior Class: This year’s Crusader senior class, a mixture of four-year players and junior college transfers, has been instrumental in the turnaround of the Valpo men’s soccer program. Israel Bisoni, Conner Cappelletti, Roby Del Giudice, Jake Freisinger, Adrian Ortiz, Ken Perkins, Ryan Schwarz and Zack Stivers comprise the group of eight final-year players who have helped transform Crusader men’s soccer. Thr group helped Valpo to its best record in school history as juniors and led the Crusaders to their best start in program history 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.
Home Field Advantage: Valpo closes the 2010 regular season campaign with three straight home fixtures, a welcome site for a side which played 11 matches away from the friendly confines of Brown Field. Valpo enters the final week of play with a 3-2-1 home record this season and is looking for its fifth straight season with a positive home record.
No Margin for Error: 13 of Valpo’s 17 games to date this season have been one-goal games or draws, continuing a trend of “close” games throughout Avery’s tenure:
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 - 13 of 17 matches, Valpo 4-7-2
Eight of those games have gone overtime, while two others were decided in the final five minutes of regulation. In Horizon League play, the two-goal win over Wright State Sept. 26 marked just the fourth time in 31 games since joining the league that Valpo has played a game not decided by one goal or less.
Defense Still Strong: Valpo’s defensive numbers remain among the best in the nation. The Crusaders, who have allowed more than one goal in a match just three times this year, have a team GAA of 0.89, good for 46th nationally, while their team save percentage of .818 ranks them 35th in the nation.
Schwarz a Mainstay in Goal: Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz continues to rank among the league’s top goalkeepers. Schwarz, who has given up more than one goal just twice this season, currently holds a 1.01 GAA, fourth in the league, and boasts a .797 save percentage, good for fifth among league netminders. Schwarz stopped one shot before being forced from Sunday night’s game against UIC due to injury, his 288th career save, moving him into solo third place on Valpo’s all-time chart in the category.
Repeat Academic Honor: Schwarz also earned a spot on the ESPN Academic All-District V First Team, it was announced on Tuesday. Schwarz, who earned First Team Academic All-District honors a year ago as well, holds a 3.72 cumulative GPA as a finance major. With the Academic All-District accolade, he is now eligible for Academic All-American consideration.
Zobeck Solid in Net Too: Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck entered in relief of Schwarz Sunday night and made four key second-half saves before allowing just his fourth goal of the season over 550 minutes of action in extra time. Zobeck currently leads the Horizon League in save percentage (.846) and ranks second in the league in GAA (0.65). He also is just 168 minutes shy of qualifying for Valpo’s career GAA chart, on which he would rank first with a 1.27 GAA.
Antonijevic Finds the Goal: Redshirt junior midfielder Stefan Antonijevic, who earned MVP honors at the Marquette Invitational earlier this season, now has four goals on the season after finding the back of the net in the second half Sunday against UIC. Antonijevic, who now owns six career goals, is second on the team in goals and ranks among the league leaders with 34 shot attempts on the season.
Stivers Leads the Way: Senior forward Zack Stivers has been the Crusaders’ top offensive threat the last two seasons, but broke new ground Oct. 20 with his first career multi-goal game. Stivers scored the eventual match-winner in the 27th minute against WMU and then added an insurance goal in the 73rd minute. Stivers now has a team-best six goals on the season, matching his output from a year ago and good for fifth in the league.
Ortiz With the Finish: Senior midfielder Adrian Ortiz has three assists on the season, giving him a career total of 12, tied for fifth-most all-time at Valpo. The senior is just one shy of a tie for third and two shy of a tie for second. But Ortiz was on the finishing end of Valpo’s second goal against WMU Oct. 20, finding the back of the net for the first time in 2010 and just the third time in his career.