“We played a really good game today against a nationally-ranked Michigan State team that is playing their best soccer of the year right now and which is going to be playing for a Big 10 regular season title next week,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “For us to come in and play a team of this caliber on the road straight up for 110 minutes shows the level at which we are capable of playing.”
The tie marked the third straight positive result against top-25 opponents by the Crusader program, as Valpo tied then-#19/17 Michigan State 1-1 last year at Eastgate Field and earned a 1-0 victory over #25/RV Bradley this season on Sept. 12. With the tie, the Crusaders also improve to 2-0-1 this year against 2007 NCAA Tournament participants and have not given up a goal in any of the three contests, previously defeating both Bradley and DePaul in 1-0 decisions.
Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) made five saves over the match’s 110 minutes, including a save with just seconds remaining in regulation and one in each of the overtime periods, to earn his fourth shutout of the season. The freshman is now tied for third all-time on Valpo’s single-season shutout list, and is currently on pace to set the Crusaders’ single-season GAA record with a GAA of 1.37. His counterpart in the Spartans’ net, Avery Steinlage, stopped six shots, including two apiece off the feet of Ken Perkins (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy) and Zack Stivers (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg).
“I thought our back four did a very good job defensively, especially Andrew Stewart (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson), and Zobeck made a couple of big saves for the shutout,” said Avery. “We had some good chances today; Stivers had a couple of early point-blank opportunities and Paul Leitelt (Munster, Ind./Munster) sent a chance late in regulation just over the crossbar. On the road against good teams, you hope one of those chances goes your way so you can get out with a win. But, nonetheless, this was a good, well-earned result and gives us something to build on as we face another ranked team in league play this week.”
Valparaiso (5-8-3) will turn right around and face another ranked opponent on Friday, as #16/14 UIC comes to town to challenge the Crusaders at 3 p.m. The game, along with Sunday’s matchup with Detroit, will be played at Brown Field, marking the men’s soccer program’s first games at the newly-surfaced facility. All the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live statistics.