Brown and Gold Look to Carry Hot Start Into California
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
THIS WEEK: Valpo at UC-Davis (Saturday, 7:00 p.m.) & Valpo at Sacramento State (Monday, 2:00 p.m.)

COPA DE CAUSEWAY TOURNAMENT: The opening event in UC-Davis and Sacramento State's annual Causeway Cup, the Crusaders round out the three-team field at the Copa de Causeway Tournament. The Causeway Cup is a season-long all-sport competition between the two California schools.

SCOUTING UC-DAVIS: The Aggies are in the final season of their four-year transition to become a fully-certified Division I program. UC-Davis will compete in the Big West Conference when the transition is complete, and have played relatively well through their opening soccer weekend this year. The Aggies struggled in their opener, falling 5-0 on the road to #25 Washington, but bounced back on Sunday to throttle Gonzaga 4-0 on the road in Spokane. Paul Marcoux scored a pair of goals in the Gonzaga win to lead the team and Mariano Arrua notched a goal and an assist, including the match-winner in the 9th minute.

SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE: The Hornets are coming off their best season in over 10 years, and were picked to finish second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation this fall. Sacramento State returns seven starters and nine seniors this season, but went 0-2 on their opening weekend at the Diadora Classic in Corvallis, Ore. Michigan State, who the Crusaders will play later this season, knocked off the Hornets 1-0 in overtime in the opener Friday, and the host Beavers captured a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.

LAST WEEK: Sophomore midfielder Paul Leitelt capped a wild weekend at home with the first Crusader hat trick in 11 years on Sunday, capping a big Valpo comeback and helping the Brown and Gold start 2-0 for the first time since 1987. Sunday's 5-4 (2ot) win over Evansville came courtesy of three second half Valpo goals, as the hosts erased 2-0 and 3-1 deficits during regulation only to need Leitelt's third marker of the match in the 89th minute to force the extra period. Leitelt then narrowly missed his fourth goal in the 104th minute, blasting a free kick from just beyond the box off the keeper's hands and onto the foot of freshman Steve Shively who punched home the winner. Shively also enjoyed a nice weekend, picking up a first match-winner Friday afternoon in the 9th minute of the Crusaders' 2-0 season-opening win over DePaul. Another freshman, Ryan Schwarz earned his first career shutout in goal.

THAT'S MORE LIKE IT: After going 1-14-0 in the first 15 season-opening matches under Mis' Mrak, the Crusaders won an opener for the first time since 2001 Friday with a 2-0 win over DePaul at Eastgate Field. Not only that, the Crusaders went ahead and won again Sunday to start 2-0 for the first time since 1987, also the last time a Valpo team was 3-0. No Crusader club has ever started 4-0, a mark the Brown and Gold can reach by winning the Copa de Causeway Tournament this weekend. And that would be quite an accomplishment, beacuse no Valpo team has ever posted two wins at an in-season tournament. In fact, only twice have the Crusaders gone unbeaten at an in-season tournament, once in 1990 and again in 1991, Mrak's first season.

POURING IT ON: The Crusaders, whose fine run in 2005 was predicated on a stifling defense, have turned the tables in 2006, scoring seven goals in their first two matches. The five goals against Evansville were the most scored by a Crusader team since late in 1998, and the seven Valpo goals so far this year are more than 25% of the team's 27 goal total in 2005. The school record for single-season goals of 41 was set in 1985, and the record under Mrak is 29 (1998).

LEIT IT UP: Paul Leitelt's unbelieve offensive weekend (four goals, two assists) did not go unnoticed. The sophomore midfielder earned Mid-Continent Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career, and was also named to the College Soccer News ( National Team of the Week.

HE'S NOT SHI: It didn't take freshman striker Steve Shively long to make an impact in a Crusader uniform. The freshman pocketed a pair of match-winning goals in his first two collegiate games, starting the scoring only nine minutes into the season against DePaul. Shively struck again on Sunday in overtime, and already has more match-winners in his career than any current Crusader besides senior D.J. Catrow, who tallied two in his first two seasons at Valpo.

QUICKLY: Senior Mark Wolka scored his first career goal Sunday ... freshman Ryan Schwarz is the first Valpo keeper to record a shutout in his collegiate debut (Aug. 25) in at least the last 15 seasons.