Valparaiso closed out its 2006 home slate Wednesday afternoon at Eastgate Field, falling 1-0 to the visitors from Eastern Illinois.
Both teams had numerous chances early in the first half, but neither the Crusaders nor the Panthers could find the back of the net in the first 45 minutes of play, as the game was scoreless into the half. Valpo had a slight edge in first half shots, 7-6, with each team putting two shots on goal.
Eastern Illinois struck in the 57th minute, as Mick Galeski and Adam Gartner worked a give-and-go to perfection in the 18 yard box, with Gartner getting his third goal of the season. The Crusaders could only manage two shots in the second half in an attempt to knot it up, with the best opportunity coming off of the foot of John Allendorf (Hobart, Ind./Hobart) in the 73rd minute, a shot inside the six-yard box that hit the side of the net.
The Panthers ended up out-shooting Valpo for the match, 14-9, including a 6-2 edge in shots on goal. Both teams ended with five corner kicks, while Eastern Illinois (10-6-1) committed 21 fouls to Valpo's 12. Sean McGinnis (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) made five saves in his second start of the year between the pipes for the Crusaders. Mark Hansen stopped two shots to earn his fourth shutout for EIU.
The Crusaders honored eight seniors as part of Senior Day festivities at halftime of the match. The honorees included Allendorf, McGinnis, Jeremy Stacy (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central), D.J. Catrow (Springfield, Ohio/Catholic Central [Ohio State]), Greg Gibson (Fort Wayne, Ind./South Side), J.J. Eschenburg (Edgewood, N.M./Moriarty), Mark Wolka (Farmington Hills, Mich./Lutheran North), and Henrik Turk (Grayslake, Ill./Mundelein). All eight were part of Valpo's starting lineup in the final home match of their careers.
Valparaiso (7-9-0) controls its own fate this Friday at 3:00 p.m. as the Crusaders travel to Macomb, Ill. to take on Western Illinois. The Brown and Gold can earn a berth in the four-team Mid-Con Championship with a win over the Leathernecks.