This Weekend’s Action: After snapping a four-game losing streak with a win over IPFW on Sunday, the Crusaders will look to gain momentum as they enter their final road trip of the regular season, traveling to Green Bay for a key Horizon League meeting Thursday night before facing off at Michigan State on Sunday.
The Matchups: Green Bay holds an 8-1-0 advantage in the all-time series against the Crusaders, and defeated Valpo on Sept. 26, 2007 at Eastgate Field, 1-0, in the squads’ last meeting. The Phoenix’s JC Banks headed a ball home in the 81st minute for the match’s only goal. Ryan Schwarz made four saves in net for the Crusaders.
Michigan State is 9-1-1 all-time versus Valpo, but the Crusaders earned a hard-fought 1-1 (2ot) draw on Oct. 21, 2007 in the last meeting. The Spartans, who entered the match ranked among the nation’s top-20 teams, struck less than 30 seconds into the game, but Steve Shively put home the match-tying goal in the 28th minute with assists from Adrian Ortiz and Ken Perkins. Schwarz stopped eight shots, including a number of sprawling saves late in the second half, to preserve the tie for Valpo.
Recapping Last Week: Goals in the first and 90th minute book-ended the match for Valpo, which got the eventual match-winner from Steve Shively less than two minutes into the second half as the Crusaders defeated IPFW on Sunday at Eastgate Field, 3-1. Zack Stivers put Valpo ahead just 47 seconds into the match, but the Mastodons notched a tally right before the half. Shively found the back of the net in the 47th minute off a corner by Vasilios Kyriakopoulos to give Valpo the lead for good, and Jake Freisinger added an insurance marker with just 12 seconds to play. Kyle Zobeck made seven stops in net for the Crusaders.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will not be broadcasting either of this weekend’s road matches. Links for live statistics for both matches will be available at www.valpoathletics.com, however. 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.
Striking Quickly: The Crusaders were playing from ahead just 47 seconds into the match Sunday, a luxury they have not been afforded often at all. Zack Stivers’ goal was the first time in at least a decade for the Crusader men’s soccer program that Valpo got on the board in the first minute of play.
Another Match-Winner: Junior forward Steve Shively has made it a habit throughout his three seasons of finding ways to score match-winning goals for the Crusaders, and did it again on Sunday, positioning himself perfectly on a corner kick and re-directing the ball into the net. For Shively, it was his fourth goal of the season and his second match-winner, giving him 13 career markers, seven of which have been of the match-winning variety.
Close Games: Through 14 matches in 2008 to date, Valpo has seen the final margin be two goals or fewer on 13 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.
Career First: Sophomore midfielder Jake Freisinger found the back of the net Sunday with just 12 seconds to play for his first career goal. Freisinger became the tenth different Crusader to score a goal this year and the fifth Valpo player to register their first career tally in a Crusader kit.
Taking to the Field Every Time Out: Seven members of the Crusader roster have taken to the pitch in all 14 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 14 matches. Stewart is the only Crusader to start all 14 matches besides Zobeck, and now has started 61 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.
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.