This Weekend’s Action: Valparaiso steps out of Horizon League play this weekend for the first time in almost a month, taking on IPFW at Eastgate Field on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
The Matchup: The Crusaders hold a 10-3-0 advantage in the all-time series against the Mastodons, with their ten victories being the most against any single opponent in program history. The series was dormant for 13 years before being re-started in 2004, and in the four meetings since the series’ renewal, Valpo has earned victories in all four matchups with an aggregate advantage of 11-1.
Last time the two sides met, it was the Crusaders who came out with a 3-0 victory at Eastgate Field on Sept. 7, 2007, giving Mike Avery his first victory of the helm of the Valpo program. Yuuki Guzman registered a goal and an assist in the winning effort, while Adrian Ortiz matched the second-most assists in a single match in Crusader history with a pair of helpers. Sean McGinnis made three saves for his third career shutout.
Recapping Last Week: Valpo dropped its third one-goal decision in the last four matches on Saturday, falling at Cleveland State by a 3-2 count. Steve Shively scored his third goal of the season with two minutes left in the opening half to knot the match at one, but the Vikings answered just 19 seconds later. Cleveland State would add a crucial insurance tally on a PK in the 54th minute. Oscar Lomeli pulled Valpo back to within one with a marker in the 82nd minute, but that was as close as the Crusaders would get. Kyle Zobeck made four saves in net for Valpo.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will be broadcasting the Crusaders’ match on Sunday against the Mastodons. In addition, the audio will be available online along with a link for live statistics at www.valpoathletics.com. WVUR is slated to broadcast nine Crusader men’s soccer matches this season, while live stats for all Valpo home matches and select road matches can be accessed through the official Valparaiso athletics website.
Close Games: Through 13 matches in 2008 to date, Valpo has seen the final margin be two goals or fewer on 12 occasions, with the only outlier being a 3-0 victory over Western Michigan. The games have gotten even closer in Horizon League play as well, as four of Valpo’s first five league contests have been ties or decided by just one goal.
Taking to the Field Every Time Out: Seven members of the Crusader roster have taken to the pitch in all 13 of Valpo’s matches in 2008. On the back line, freshman goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck has played every minute of every match in net for the Crusaders this year. In front of him, defenders Andrew Stewart and Ken Perkins have been on the field for all 13 matches. Stewart is the only Crusader to start all 13 matches besides Zobeck, and now has started 60 times during his career. Also appearing in every match have been midfielders J.J. Del Castillo, Jake Freisinger and Adrian Ortiz, and forward Oscar Lomeli.
Again It’s Lomeli: Senior forward Oscar Lomeli has already netted three goals in Horizon League play, just one marker shy of the league lead in loop action only. In all contests, Lomeli is tied for sixth among league players with five goals, and he also ranks among the league’s top ten in shot attempts (30, t-6th) and points (11, 8th).
Shively Continues to Score: Junior forward Steve Shively picked up his third goal of the season at Cleveland State last Saturday. Shively now leads all active Crusaders with 12 career markers and is just four goals shy of Valpo’s all-time top-ten in the category.
Registering Their First Assist: A pair of Crusaders tallied their first assist of the 2008 campaign Saturday on Lomeli’s goal against the Vikings. Senior defender Andrew Stewart recorded his fourth career helper from the back line, while freshman midfielder Vasilios Kyriakopoulos registered his first career point with the assist.
Picked Sixth: Valpo has been projected to finish sixth in the Horizon League this year by the league’s head coaches. UIC was a unanimous choice to win the league title, followed by Green Bay, Loyola, Butler and Milwaukee. The Crusaders were trailed by Wright State, Detroit and Cleveland State in the polling.
Tournament Teams Highlight Schedule: Four of Valpo’s 18 opponents on the 2008 slate reached the NCAA Tournament last season. The Crusaders have already downed the first two such opponents they have faced, defeating DePaul (1-0) on Aug. 31 and #25/RV Bradley (1-0), which advanced to the 2007 Elite Eight, on Sept. 12. Later this year, Valpo will play at Michigan State before welcoming UIC, which also reached the Elite Eight last season, to Eastgate Field on October 31.