#22/23 Michigan at Valparaiso - 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 6
Valparaiso at #11/10 South Florida - 6:30 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, Sept. 8
Coming Up for the Crusaders: A pair of stern tests await the Valpo men’s soccer team over the next week, as #22/23 Michigan comes to Brown Field on Sunday before the Crusaders travel to Tampa to face off against #11/10 South Florida on Tuesday.
The Matchups: The Crusaders have faced Michigan on the pitch just once before, a 3-2 loss on Nov. 5, 1989, and have not taken on South Florida. Valpo last faced a Big Ten team on Oct. 26, 2008, earning a scoreless draw at Michigan State. The Crusaders met with fellow Big East side Marquette during exhbition action this year, playing to a 2-2 tie at Brown Field.
Previously: Valpo kicked off the season with a victory over Eastern Illinois for the second straight year, this time traveling to Charleston to down the Panthers by a 2-0 count. Freshman Jaymie Bullard was responsible for both Crusader markers, while Ryan Schwarz made his return to the Valpo net with four saves in the shutout.
Crusaders Team Up With TOCO: Valpo is teaming up with St. Lucian reggae artist Taj Weekes and his children’s charity, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO), to help launch the “Sneakers Not Wheelchairs” campaign - a public health initiative that will target the diabetes crisis in St. Lucia. The Crusaders will conduct a fundraiser during the Michigan match on Sunday to help TOCO purchase supplies for November’s mission trip.
The program is waiving the standard admission charge for the game against the Wolverines, and will instead be taking cash and check donations to help purchase new medical supplies to help provide resources to the population affected with diabetes. The first 200 fans who donate at least $10 will receive a free t-shirt. Fans may also bring any new, packaged medical supplies, as well as gently used soccer equipment, that they wish to donate to the cause. The Crusaders will continue to accept any donations throughout the season as well as they continue their partnership with TOCO into the 2009 season and beyond.
Following the Crusaders: The sports staff at Valparaiso’s campus radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, will be broadcasting the match against the Wolverines live over its airwaves and online at www.valpoathletics.com, but will not be broadcasting the South Florida match. Both contests will have live stats links available through the official Crusader website.
Double the Pleasure: Freshman Jaymie Bullard got his career off to a fast start on Tuesday evening, finding the back of the net in just the fourth minute of play. He then added another marker in the 62nd minute, becoming the first Crusader freshman to score twice in their first career match since Kent Hediger found the back of the net twice against Purdue-Calumet in 1984. It was the first multi-goal game by any Crusader since current senior Steve Shively scored twice against Western Michigan on Sept. 21 of last season.
Return to the Net: Redshirt junior Ryan Schwarz had not stepped foot on the pitch for a regular season contest for Valpo since being named Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year following the 2007 campaign, but looked like he hadn’t missed a beat on Tuesday, making four saves and owning the penalty area as he earned his seventh career shutout, tying him for third in the Crusader annals. Schwarz stayed sharp this summer playing for the Chicago Fire PDL side, earning Man of the Match honors after making six saves in the final 30 minutes of their first round U.S. Open Cup victory.
Facing Ranked Foes: This coming week brings two of the four ranked opponents that the Crusaders will face this year. In addition to Michigan and USF, Valpo will also face off Michigan State in East Lansing later this month, and also will take on current #10/11 UIC in Chicago on the back side of Horizon League play. The Crusaders have acquitted themselves quite well against ranked opposition under Coach Avery, going 1-2-2 in five such contests.
Sept. 2, 2007 - L at #4/3 Duke, 2-0
Oct. 21, 2007 - T vs. #19/17 Michigan State, 1-1
Sept. 12, 2008 - W vs. #25/RV Bradley, 1-0
Oct. 26, 2008 - T at #24/24 Michigan State, 0-0
Oct. 31, 2008 - L vs. #13/13 UIC, 2-1
Protecting the Home Pitch: Valparaiso will play all seven of its home matches this year at Brown Field, also home of the Crusader football team. Valpo will look to extend to four seasons its streak of finishing with a .500 or better road record. Last year, the Crusaders posted a 4-3-1 mark in home contests, while the last two seasons have seen the two highest average home attendance marks in program history.
Tabbed Sixth: Valparaiso has been projected to finish sixth in the Horizon League this season in preseason polling of the league’s nine head coaches. UIC received six of the nine first-place votes and tallied 62 points to be tabbed the preseason favorite. Loyola registered two first-place votes en route to 56 points, while Butler received the remaining nod for the top spot, recording 49 points. Cleveland State (44 pts.) and Green Bay (38 pts.) preceded the Crusaders, who registered 25 points, in the polling. Milwaukee (22 pts.), Wright State (16 pts.) and Detroit (12 pts.) rounded out the preseason projections.