Michigan State at Valparaiso - Sunday, Oct. 21 - 1 p.m.
The Matchup: Valparaiso returns to the pitch for the first time in 12 days this Sunday, taking on #19/17 Michigan State at Eastgate Field. The game also marks Valpo’s first at home since September 26. The Crusaders are 1-9-0 all-time against the Spartans in a series that has been contested each year since 1997.
Last Meeting: Ryan Schwarz made five stops in net for the Crusaders, but Michigan State found the back of the net once in each half to earn the 2-0 victory over Valpo on Oct. 18, 2006. Greg Janicki opened the scoring with a put-back in the 23rd minute and Matt Kreikemeier added an insurance tally in the 79th minute. The Crusaders were limited to seven shots, two of which found their way on goal.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso came back from a one-goal halftime deficit to knot up the match midway through the second half, but Western Michigan eventually came out on top, 2-1, Oct. 9 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Tom Oatley put the Broncos on top in the 30th minute with a shot from just outside the 18-yard box. Clifton Brown knotted the match up with his first tally of the season in the 66th minute, intercepting a clearance attempt and finding the back of the net. But WMU earned the victory on a Tyler Rosenhagen goal in the 70th minute. Ryan Schwarz made four stops in goal for the Crusaders.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will be broadcasting this Sunday’s match against Michigan State from Eastgate Field. WVUR is planning on carrying seven men’s soccer games this year over the airwaves, as well as any matches as part of the Horizon League Championships. The games will also be carried online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
Return to the Pitch: Valpo’s match against Michigan State marks its first contest in 12 days, as the Crusaders have been idle since taking on Western Michigan on Oct. 9. The break marks the longest in-season hiatus for a Crusader squad since the 2001 team played Butler on Sept. 9 and followed with a game against Michigan State on Sept. 21.
Ranked Opposition: The Crusaders’ game against the Spartans will be the second time this season that Valpo has faced off against a nationally-ranked squad. The Brown and Gold squared off against Duke, then ranked among the nation’s top-five, in its second game of the season and played the Blue Devils close, eventually falling by a 2-0 count.
Hosting Top Teams: The last time Valpo hosted a nationally-ranked team was on Sept. 13, 2002, when the Crusaders defeated #22 Wisconsin by a 2-1 count at Thomas Jefferson Field. #23 Bradley was the last ranked team to take to the Eastgate Field pitch, coming in to face the Brown and Gold of Sept. 24, 2000.
Schwarz With the Save: Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz finished his freshman campaign 21st in the nation in saves per game with 5.13. This season, he has continued his proficiency in net, racking up 5.00 saves/game, good for 29th among Division I goalkeepers. Schwarz has also improved his save percentage from .700 to .723 and lowered his goals against average from 2.25 to 1.89, which if maintained would be the third-lowest GAA in Crusader history for a single season.
Ortiz on the Assist: Freshman midfielder Adrian Ortiz has made his mark on the Crusader offense in his first season. Ortiz has assisted on five of Valpo’s 11 goals, most recently registering an assist on Leitelt’s match-winner at Detroit. Ortiz’s five helpers are tied for eighth-most in a single season in Crusader history and he needs just one more to break into the top-five. He also is tied for the Horizon League lead in assists.
Leitelt Lights Up the Board: Junior midfielder Paul Leitelt entered the season as Valpo’s active goal-scoring leader with eight career tallies, but had been held off the board through the Crusaders’ first 10 matches of the season. Leitelt changed that in Valpo’s win over Detroit, taking a feed from across the box and finding the back of the net in the 26th minute for the game’s only goal.
Two Fifth-Year Seniors: The Crusaders do not have a large contingent of seniors, with just two on their 32-man roster, but both seniors are in their fifth year of collegiate soccer. Sean McGinnis has filled the backup goalkeeper position well in his time at Valpo and has already registered a shutout in 2007, while Tyler Pagano has started 38 matches in the midfield in his three years as a Crusader, tallying his first goal in a Valpo uniform earlier this year at IPFW.