Valparaiso men’s soccer head coach Mike Avery announced his squad’s schedule for the 2009 campaign today, highlighted by five games against NCAA tournament teams from last season, including a Sept. 6 meeting at Brown Field against Michigan, which finished last year ranked among the top-15 teams in the nation.
The exhibition season consists of three games, as home contests against St. Joseph’s [Ind.] and Marquette and a road matchup at Western Illinois will prepare the Crusaders for the regular season, which begins Sept. 1 at Eastern Illinois. The big home meeting with the Wolverines, who ended last year second in the Big Ten regular season standings and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, follows on Sept. 6. The tilt with Michigan is the first of seven home games that Valpo will contest this year on the ProGrass of Brown Field.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier from there for the Crusaders, as they will travel to the Southeast to play at South Florida two days later on Sept. 8. The Bulls finished last season as Big East champions, advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, and closed the 2008 campaign ranked fifth in the nation. Other pre-league games include home meetings with IUPUI and Saint Francis [Pa.] and a road matchup at Western Michigan.
The eight-game Horizon League schedule kicks off for Valparaiso Sept. 25 as the Crusaders play at Detroit. Valpo hosts Loyola, which won the Horizon League Championship last year, Butler, Green Bay and Cleveland State during league play, while also traveling to Wright State, Milwaukee and UIC, which was the league regular-season champion and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.The Crusaders also have non-league games interspersed throughout the league schedule at Michigan State, which won the Big Ten regular season title, Bowling Green and IPFW. The regular season concludes Nov. 7 at Brown Field when Valpo hosts Cleveland State, while the Horizon League Championship will be contested Nov. 10-15, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.