Valparaiso at UIC - Friday, Oct. 30 - 7 p.m.
Coming Up for the Crusaders: The key Horizon League matchups just keep on coming for the Valparaiso men’s soccer team, as it travels to UIC Friday night to try to secure a spot in the league championship and to move up the standings.
The Matchup: Valpo (8-6-1, 3-2-1 HL) is just 2-15-1 in the all-time series against UIC (6-4-5, 3-1-1 HL), but has played the Flames close in both contests since joining the Horizon League, dropping one-goal decisions in both games. Last season, UIC came to Brown Field on Oct. 31 ranked 13th in the nation, but the Crusaders jumped out on top in the 14th minute on a goal by Paul Leitelt. UIC came back with a goal in the 20th minute from Baggio Husidic and then got a rebound tally in the 69th minute from Derek Huffman for the match-winner in the Flames’ 2-1 win.
Previously: Valpo extended its winning streak to three games with a pair of victories on the road last week. The Crusaders kicked off the week with a 2-0 win at IPFW, getting both markers from Steve Shively, while goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz made two saves for the clean sheet.
Valparaiso then traveled up to Milwaukee for a key Horizon League contest and came out on top, 1-0, on an own goal off a cross by Clayton Lyons in the 76th minute. Schwarz made six saves in net for the Crusaders in the victory, including a number of point-blank stops on Panther opportunities.
Following the Crusaders: The sports staff at Valparaiso’s campus radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, will not be broadcasting the game at UIC on Friday night. However, the contest against the Flames will have live stats available, linked through the Crusader official website at www.valpoathletics.com.
Fighting for Tournament Position: This year, for the first time, only the top six teams in the Horizon League standings will advance to the league championship, making each league contest that much more important. The Crusaders currently are in a tie for fourth place with ten points, and can clinch a berth in the tournament with a win or a tie in either of their last two league games, or a loss or a tie from either Milwaukee or Wright State in their respective final league games. Valpo is also still in the mix for a top-two seed, which would grant the Crusaders a bye into the tournament semifinal.
Winning Ways: This year’s Crusader squad has already matched the program’s Division I record for victories in a season with eight (1997), and is just one win shy of tying the overall program record for wins in a season at nine (1987). With one more positive result, Valpo will also clinch a .500 or better season for the first time since 1987. This year’s team has especially excelled on the road, with the two wins away from home last week giving the Crusaders a 6-3-0 mark on the road this year, setting a new program record for single-season road victories.
No Margin for Error: All six of Valparaiso’s Horizon League games this year have either been ties or one-goal games, continuing a trend the Crusaders have seen since joining the league prior to the 2007 campaign. Valpo has played 22 league matches over the past two and a half years, 19 of which have ended as either ties or one-goal decisions.
Shively Moving Up the Charts: Senior forward Steve Shively continued his march up Valpo’s all-time goals and points charts last week. Shively found the back of the net twice against IPFW, giving him five goals on the season and 18 for his career, tied for sixth-most in Crusader history. The pair of markers also gave him 14 points on the season and 41 for his career, tied for eighth-most all-time at Valpo.
Schwarz With the Shutouts: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz registered a pair of clean sheets last week in the Crusaders’ victories at IPFW and at Milwaukee, giving him five shutouts on the season, tied for second-most in a single year in Valpo history and just one shy of the record. Schwarz lowered his season GAA to 1.10 with the pair of shutouts, on pace to easily set a new single-season Crusader record, and increased his save percentage to a career-best .776, second in the Horizon League.
Roby Earns League Honors: Junior Roby Del Giudice became the first Crusader men’s soccer player to earn the Horizon League’s weekly Player of the Week accolade, as he received the honor last week on Oct. 19. Del Giudice picked up the award for his performance in Valpo’s victory over then-league leader Green Bay, tallying his second marker of the season early in the second half against the Phoenix and then picked up the primary assist on the match-winner in overtime. The junior also was voted as ‘The People’s Choice’ on the Horizon League Network last week as well.
Iron Men: Two Crusaders have been a part of Valpo’s 11 men on the field every second this year to date. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz and junior Adrian Ortiz, who has shifted between defense and midfield this season, have both stayed on the pitch for all 1387:44 of Crusader action this year. Seven other players have appeared in all 15 games, with redshirt sophomore midfielder Stefan Antonijevic joining Ortiz and Schwarz in the starting 11 in all 15 outings.