Valparaiso University head soccer coach Mis' Mrak has announced his 2005 schedule which includes eight home matches at Eastgate Field while opening the season at the Bulls Classic in Buffalo, N.Y.
The Crusaders are set to play a 17-match regular season after beginning the year with a pair of road exhibition contests. The season concludes at the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
The 2005 regular season will open against tournament host Buffalo on September 2 at the Bulls Classic, beginning an opening stretch in which the Crusaders will play five of the first six matches away from Eastgate Field. Valpo will face Canisius two days later to conclude tournament play.
After a road match at Butler, the Brown and Gold return to Eastgate Field for the first time in 2005 to face Northern Illinois on September 11. Two more road matches follow, one at Eastern Illinois and the other at Western Michigan, setting the stage for Mid-Continent Conference action for the Crusaders.
Valpo opens Mid-Con play at home on September 24 against UMKC, the first contest of a three-match homestand for the Crusaders. The next day the Brown and Gold will entertain IPFW in a non-conference battle before hosting Centenary the following weekend in league play.
League road tilts against Oakland and Oral Roberts are sandwiched around a non-conference home match against Detroit on October 12. Valpo's final home conference contest is slated for October 21 against Western Illinois before the Crusaders take to the road for the final time during the regular season with matches at Cleveland State and the conference finale at IUPUI.
The Crusaders will conclude the regular season at home with matches against Xavier (Ohio) and Michigan State, a NCAA Tournament team one year ago. The match against the Spartans on November 6 is also slated as Senior Day for the Brown and Gold. Valpo then looks to head to the Mid-Con Tournament on November 11 and 13 for the first time since 2002.
Valparaiso is coming off of a 4-11-3 mark overall in 2004. The Crusaders finished 1-3-2 in Mid-Continent Conference play, finishing sixth. Mrak, in his 15th season at the helm of the Crusaders, returns 14 letterwinners, including eight starters, from last year's squad.