Valparaiso (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
at UNLV Nike Invitational (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Saturday, Sept. 4 - 3 p.m. CT at UNLV (0-0-0, 0-0-0 MPSF)
Monday, Sept. 6 - 12:30 p.m. CT vs.
UC Riverside (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Big West)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The 2010 campaign gets under way for the Valparaiso men’s soccer team this weekend as they travel to Las Vegas to play in the UNLV Nike Invitational. The Crusaders will face the host Rebels Saturday afternoon before taking on UC Riverside on Labor Day.
Following the Crusaders: There will be no live audio from Las Vegas this weekend, as WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) coverage of Valpo men’s soccer will begin Sept. 19 against Bowling Green. Live stats will be available for both of this weekend’s matches through www.valpoathletics.com, however.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery enters 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: It’s a pair of first-time opponents on the slate for the Crusaders this weekend, as Valpo has never faced UNLV or UC Riverside on the pitch.
Wrapping Up Exhibition Action: Valparaiso stayed at home for pre-season action, playing a pair of matches at Brown Field. The Crusaders dropped a 2-1 decision on Aug. 21 to Northern Illinois, picked to finish second in the MAC behind only preseason #1 Akron, and then competed in an intra-squad scrimmage under the lights a week later.
Scouting the Opposition: UNLV also will be opening the 2010 campaign on Saturday afternoon. The Rebels welcome first-year head coach Rich Ryerson this season and are picked to finish seventh in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
UC Riverside opened its 2010 season on Thursday night, dropping a 3-2 decision at San Jose State. Cesar Diaz and Jimmy Martinez netted the pair of tallies for the Highlanders, while Nick Goldreich stopped three shots in net.
Valpo in Season Openers: The Crusaders are just 7-19-1 all-time in season openers, but have started the season 1-0 in three of the past four years, including two of three under Avery. Last year’s season opener got off to a rousing start, as Jaymie Bullard scored the first of his two goals just over three minutes into a 2-0 victory over Eastern Illinois.
Looking Back at 2009: The 2009 campaign was a season full of milestones for the Crusader men’s soccer team. Valpo set a new program standard with 10 victories and finished above .500 for just the second time in team history. Defensively, the Crusaders surrendered just 21 goals in 19 games, the second-fewest goals allowed in a single year in team history, behind only the 1987 squad. Valpo also set a new record for longest unbeaten streak, going undefeated (5-0-1) in a six-match stretch from Oct. 11-Nov. 10.
Crusaders Picked Third in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish in a tie for third place in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll. Only Butler and Green Bay, both NCAA Tournament squads a year ago, were picked to finish ahead of the Crusaders.
Schwarz Rakes In the Honors: Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz was named the Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in his career in 2009. Schwarz, who missed the 2008 campaign due to injury, played every minute in net for the Crusaders last year, setting new single-season marks for GAA (1.07) and shutouts (7) while allowing just 21 goals over the 19 games. Schwarz, who also was named to the First Team All-League and was an Academic All-District honoree, was one of just 34 players nationwide selected as finalists for Soccer News Net Player of the Year honors. He enters his final season tops in Crusader history in career GAA and just one off of the shutout record.
Other Honorees Return: Schwarz is far from the only player who received Horizon League honors last season to return for the Crusaders in 2010. Redshirt junior midfielder Stefan Antonijevic and senior midfielder Adrian Ortiz both were Second Team All-League honorees a year ago, while sophomore midfielder Jaymie Bullard was an All-Newcomer Team selection.
Multitude of Experience: It is a very experienced Crusader side that enters the 2010 campaign, as 17 letterwinners are back from last year’s 10-win squad. Among the 17 returnees are nine starters, as Valpo graduated just midfielder Rodolfo Lucas and forward Steve Shively from last year’s starting 11.
Offensive Firepower: Not to be overlooked is the fact that last year’s team scored 28 goals, the most by a Crusader side in a single season since 1997. Leading the way was senior forward Zack Stivers, who found the back of the net six times, while redshirt junior forward Brendan Roth tallied four markers a year ago.
Iron Men: A pair of Crusader seniors have been stalwarts on the pitch for Valpo throughout their careers. Ortiz and Ken Perkins have both appeared in all 56 matches through their first three seasons with the Crusaders, with Ortiz starting 47 times and Perkins earning 45 starting nods. Ortiz took it to another level in 2009, playing all 1,768 minutes and not coming off the pitch in any of Valpo’s 19 contests.