The Valparaiso men’s soccer team saw the best season in
program history come to an end on Friday in Indianapolis,
Ind., as the third-seeded Crusaders lost to
second-seeded Green Bay,
3-1, in Horizon League Championship semifinal action.
Crusader side ended the season with a 10-7-2 overall record, breaking the
previous program record for victories (9, 1987) and also becoming the first
squad since 1987 to finish above .500.
This year’s team also posted Valpo’s highest regular season league
finish since 2002 and was just the second team in program history to earn a
victory in postseason play.
Individually, goalkeeper Ryan
Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) set new program
single-season records for shutouts (7) and goals against average (1.07).
to Green Bay,
they were certainly the better team on the field today and earned their
victory, and good luck to them in the final,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “On our end, it wasn’t our best performance
today, a lot of which was due to Green
Bay’s play. But
I’m super proud of our guys for what we’ve accomplished all season, battling
all year long. We kept battling even late
in the game today and were able to pull one goal back. That attitude has been a trademark of our
team all season long and will be what gets us back to the tournament next year
and hopefully advance further along.”
Bay got on the board early in the match in the 13th minute, when
Scott Raymonds sent a cross from the left wing into the box that David Znaty
put a head on and re-directed into the back of the net from four yards
out. Raymonds added a header goal of his
own in the 74th minute, scoring from eight yards after a David
Prochazka free kick.
Phoenix pushed in a third goal in the 77th minute, as JC Banks found
Dan Krueger with a long lead pass that Krueger shot from 18 yards out on the
left side to the far corner of the goal.
The Crusaders would cut the deficit back down to two goals just 82
seconds later, as senior Danny Jeftich (Valparaiso,
Ind./Valparaiso [IUPUI]) connected on a free kick from 25 yards out to the
right corner of the net for his first career marker, but Valpo could not get
Bay (14-2-2) ended the match with a 13-8 advantage in shot attempts and put six
of its tries on frame to just one for Valpo.
Schwarz made three stops in goal for the Crusaders.
match was the final in the careers of four Crusader seniors: Jeftich, J.J. Del Castillo (Queretaro,
[Gardner-Webb]), Rodolfo Lucas (Mogi Mirim, Brazil/
[Coffeyville C.C.]) and Steve Shively (Indianapolis, Ind./North
Central). The quartet, who were all big
components of Valpo’s transition into the Horizon League, all were on the pitch
at the end of Friday’s match. Shively closes his career
tied for sixth in Valpo history with 18 career goals and tied for eighth with
41 career points.
“I just have to give
special thanks to our seniors,” said Avery.
“They have done a great job leading us through the greatest season in
program history, no small accomplishment considering the level of play in this
league. All four of them have been
integral parts of our program’s growth and will be missed.”