*Valpo at UIC - Wednesday, Oct. 31 - 7 p.m.
*Cleveland State at Valpo - Friday, Nov. 2 - 3 p.m.
The Matchups: Valparaiso closes out the regular season this week with its final two Horizon League games, traveling to UIC on Wednesday before hosting Cleveland State on Friday. The Crusaders are 2-13-1 all-time against the Flames and are 1-8 in the all-time series versus the Vikings.
Last Meetings: Valpo was tied with UIC at the half, 1-1, in Chicago on Oct. 6, 1999, but the Flames scored three second-half goals to pull away for the 4-2 victory. Mike Bielski kicked off the scoring for the Crusaders in the 33rd minute, while J.J. Ruane added a penalty-kick marker late in the second half. Mike Sernel stopped eight shots in net for Valpo.
John Allendorf put Valpo on the board in the 28th minute, but Cleveland State scored two unanswered goals to defeat the Crusaders, 2-1, at Eastgate Field on Sept. 17, 2006. Ryan Schwarz made four saves in goal.
Last Time Out: Neither Valparaiso nor Wright State could dent the scoreboard for the first 109 minutes of action Sunday afternoon in Dayton, Ohio, but the Raiders found the back of the net with just 22 seconds remaining in the second overtime period to win the game, 1-0. The Crusaders were forced to play the final 50 minutes of the game a man down. Crusader goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz continued his stellar play in net, stopping 11 shots on the day, including a marvelous leaping save with under three minutes to play in the second overtime to keep the Raiders off the board.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will not be broadcasting Wednesday’s match at UIC, but will cover Friday’s home finale against Cleveland State. 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.
Playoff Positioning: Valparaiso currently sits in eighth place in the league standings, but still has a shot at one of the top six seeds, which would give the Crusaders a home game in the first round of the League championship. Valpo is just one point behind Detroit, which has closed out loop play with six points. The Crusaders would have to earn at least four points between their final two games to have a chance to move into the fifth or sixth positions.
Return to the Loop: With their game at Wright State, the Crusaders returned to the Horizon League schedule for the first time since they defeated Detroit on Oct. 3. The 25-day span between League games is the longest between two such contests in program history.
Fit to Be Tied: With the tie against Michigan State, Valpo matched a program record for draws in a season. The Crusaders, who now have three ties this year, also registered three draws in 2004, 1996 and 1988.
Defending League Foes: The Crusaders have given up just eight goals through six league games. Perhaps more impressive is that Valpo has just once (Butler) allowed a League foe more than one goal in a match. Over the last four League games, Valpo has given up just three markers in nearly 400 minutes of action.
Schwarz With the Save: Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz continues to move up the NCAA leaderboard in the saves category. After his 11-save effort Sunday at Wright State, Schwarz is now averaging 5.64 saves/game, best in the Horizon League and good for 13th nationally. The 11 stops he made against the Raiders also marked a career-best total, topping his 10 saves last season at UC Davis.
Making His Goals Count: Sophomore Steve Shively has found the back of the net eight times in his career, most recently against Michigan State for the game-tying goal. All of Shively’s goals has been big ones, as he has registered five match-winners in his career. Each of the other three goals, including Sunday’s marker against the Spartans, have come in 1-1 ties.
Give These Guys an Assist: Freshman Adrian Ortiz continued to serve as a playmaker for the Crusaders out of the midfield against Michigan State, earning an assist on Shively’s goal. For Ortiz, it was his League-best sixth assist of the season, and he now is tied for third in a single season in Crusader history with six helpers. Ken Perkins received the primary assist on Shively’s goal, his first collegiate point.
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.