Valparaiso earned its first victory in Horizon League play Wednesday afternoon at Detroit, defeating the Titans, 1-0. The win gives the Crusaders five points in League action through five matches.
“This was a very good win for us today,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “Detroit’s new facility is not quite done, so we played on a high school field that presented some challenging conditions. I thought our guys did a great job adapting to the conditions to earn the victory.”
Detroit held a 6-2 advantage in shots in the first half, but for the seventh time in 11 matches this season, Valpo held its opponent scoreless in the opening 45 minutes. The Crusaders got the only goal they would need in the 26th minute, as Paul Leitelt (Munster, Ind./Munster) found the back of the net, tallying his first goal of the season. Leitelt was assisted on the goal by Mario Diaz (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel [South Suburban]) and Adrian Ortiz (Berwyn, Ill./Morton West), his fifth assist of the season, tied for eighth-best in a single season in Valpo history.
Detroit took 12 shot attempts in the second half, while Valpo blasted five shots, but both teams could get only two on frame. Crusader goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) stopped both shots put on net in the second stanza to earn his first shutout of the season.
“Schwarz was once again fantastic in net for us,” said Avery. “He did a great job to earn the shutout.”
Both teams put three shots on goal in the game, while Detroit held an 18-7 edge in total shots. The Titans also took five corners to Valpo’s two, while the Crusaders committed 22 fouls versus 14 for Detroit.
The Crusaders now own a 1-2-2 record in Horizon League action and have 25 days before they play another League match. On his team’s start in League play, Avery said, “We probably left a few points on the table along the way, but overall I’m not displeased with where we’re at. We have a long break from conference play, and after these next two non-league matches, we get a much-needed layoff so we can get healthy and be at our best for the last stretch of League play.”
Valparaiso (3-6-2, 1-2-2 Horizon) returns to the pitch on Sunday as the Crusaders head to Eastern Illinois to take on the Panthers. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.