Jon Obial (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin) found the back of the net for the first time in his career early in the second half, and Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) made five saves to earn his first career shutout as Valparaiso went into Chicago on Sunday and defeated DePaul, 1-0.
“It was a very, very good day for us,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “Over the past few years, DePaul has developed a strong tradition at its home field and does a great job making it a hard place to play. Our guys came in and did a great job managing that part of the day. The guys stuck to our game plan, and we got a very well earned win out of it.”
The first half went by without either team hitting the scoreboard. DePaul got off six shots in the opening 45 minutes, including two on goal in the middle portion of the half that Zobeck turned away. The Crusaders fired four shots in the first half, two of which were on goal but saved by Blue Demon netminder Brian Visser.
Both teams got shots off early in the second half, including DePaul’s third attempt on goal saved by Zobeck, before Valparaiso’s Obial put the first tally on the scoreboard in the 53rd minute. Obial intercepted an errant pass at midfield, dribbled in to about 20 yards out and fired a shot that made its way past Visser to put the Crusaders ahead 1-0.
The Crusaders kept the pressure on, firing three shots in the next seven minutes, but Visser made two stops to keep the Blue Demons within one. DePaul made a number of pushes in the final 30 minutes to try to net the equalizer, taking seven shots in the last third of the game, but couldn’t push one across the goal line. The best Blue Demon chance came off of a corner in the 86th minute, but Clifton Brown (Chillicothe, Ohio/Unioto) cleared the ball off of the goal line to keep DePaul scoreless.
“We turned up the tempo early on in the second half and really put some good pressure on DePaul that eventually resulted in the goal,” said Avery. “Late, we were able to weather some storms defensively thanks to good play by Kyle and our back line. DePaul is a big team and dangerous on corner kicks, so we put two guys on the post on corners, and Clifton did a great job holding his position on the late corner and clearing the ball.”
Zobeck, making just his second collegiate appearance, stopped five shots to earn his first career shutout, while Visser also made five saves for DePaul (0-1-0) in the losing effort. The Crusaders, who showcased their depth with 21 players taking the field, attempted 12 shots on the day, led by Oscar Lomeli (Jalisco, Mexico/ (Bethel [Ind.]), who put two of his three attempts on goal.
“Two guys who didn’t see the pitch on Friday, Danny Jeftich (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso (IUPUI) and Yuuki Guzmán (Tokyo, Japan/Seoul (Korea) Foreign), were both terrific for us out there today,” said Avery. “That is going to be one of the keys this season is our depth. Being able to rotate in numerous guys off the bench helps keep our legs fresh, especially in the second match of a two-match weekend.”
Valparaiso (2-0-0) has swept its first two matches of the season for just the fourth time in program history. The Crusaders will put their undefeated record on the line on Friday, Sept. 5 when they travel to Indianapolis to take on IUPUI. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. CDT.