Coming off only their second trip to the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament since 1998, Head Coach Mis' Mrak
today announced the 2006 men's soccer schedule, a lineup that includes 10 home matches at Eastgate Field.
The Crusaders open the year with a pair of exhibition contests, on the road August 18 against Xavier (Ohio) and at home August 20 against UW-Milwaukee. The Panthers are the defending Horizon League Tournament Champions and will become a regular part of the Valpo schedule when the Brown and Gold enter the Horizon League in 2007.
Friday, August 25, Valpo kicks off the regular season with a 5:00 p.m. match at Eastgate Field against DePaul. The Blue Demons and Crusaders have met on the pitch more often than any non-conference Valpo opponent, with DePaul leading the all-time series 10-5-3. The two clubs last met in 2004, playing to a 1-1 draw in Chicago, Ill. Two days later, the Brown and Gold are at home again, taking on in-state rival Evansville for the third time in the last five seasons.
Valpo then takes to the road on September 2, opening play in the Copa de Causeway tournament against Cal-Davis before meeting Sacramento State on September 4.
The Crusaders follow their California trip with a four-match, two-week homestand beginning Friday, September 8 with a meeting against Western Michigan. After taking on Buffalo September 10, the Brown and Gold begin the Mid-Con season against Oral Roberts September 15. The homestand comes to a close two days later against Horizon League member Cleveland State.
When October rolls around two weeks later, the Crusaders will be in Evanston, Ill. taking on Big 10 foe Northwestern for the 14th time in school history, continuing a series that dates back almost to the Valpo program's inception. Two weeks later, on October 18, Valpo visits another Big 10 member, Michigan State.
Valpo's seven seniors will play their final match at Eastgate on October 25 at 3:00 p.m. when Eastern Illinois comes to town. The Panthers and Crusaders met for the 10th time last season, with EIU prevailing 2-0 in Charleston, Ill.
The 2006 Crusaders return 16 letterwinners and seven starters from last season's 6-10-2 squad that went 3-2-1 in the Mid-Con. The 2005 team set numerous Division I school records on the defensive end, including fewest goals allowed (29) and most shutouts (6).