A goal in the 88th minute by senior midfielder Roby Del Giudice (Toronto, Ont./Robert F. Hall [Wallace State C.C.]) sent Monday’s match against UC Riverside in Las Vegas, Nev. to overtime, and Del Giudice notched the match-winner late in the first overtime period to close a 2-1 victory for Valparaiso. The win gave the Crusaders the UNLV Nike Invitational tournament title, the first in-season tournament championship in Valpo men’s soccer history.
“I told the guys afterwards that we want to be in the habit of winning championships, and the opportunity to play for the title today against UC Riverside was a good one,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “We were much sharper today than on Saturday, and we had to be because Riverside is a good squad. I am proud of the way we performed today. This was great preparation for getting deep in the Horizon League tournament and having to play a semifinal and final in a 48-hour stretch. We have another hard challenge next weekend at Marquette’s tournament, but hopefully we carry this momentum over.”
The Crusaders utilized late heroics for the second straight game to earn the win and the tournament championship, as Guy Shabtay (Ramat-Gan, Israel/Blich [Prairie State C.C.]) also scored in the 88th minute Saturday as Valpo defeated host UNLV 1-0. This marks the fifth time in program history that the Crusaders have started 2-0 and the second time in the last three years.
“I think it’s a great sign of our character that we have been able to come back and win two games in the last five minutes,” said Avery. “It’s a real testament to our resolve, and I’m very proud not only that we won, but how we won. It says a lot about the team’s determination, and I hope that characteristic continues as we continue our season.”
Unlike Saturday’s contest, Valpo held the advantage in the run of play against the Highlanders, enjoying significant advantages of 9-1 in shots on goal and 12-6 in corner kicks. UC Riverside goalkeeper Nick Goldreich made seven saves to keep the game scoreless, and it appeared the Highlanders would steal the victory when Arnie Sanchez put a shot inside the left post in the 81st minute.
But that was merely a precursor for Del Giudice’s match-tying and match-winning markers. The senior took a pass from fellow midfielder Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake County/Marquette]) with just over two minutes to play, a feed that caught Goldreich out of position, and sent a shot through defenders to tie the game at one. Then, in the 99th minute, Del Giudice worked a give-and-go with Zack Stivers (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) that ended with the former converting on an easy attempt for the golden goal.
“To be fair, we should have been up a couple goals earlier,” said Avery. “Both Clayton (Lyons) and Brendan (Roth) had point blank chances they hit well, but right at the Riverside goalie. Roby got himself into a good spot with a few minutes left and hit a nice shot that found its way through the defense. Then him and Zack had a great combo that allowed Roby to just walk in for the winner. He had a great performance all weekend, and I’m happy he was able to find the net.”
The look in goal was a different one for Valpo, as for the first time since the close of the 2008 season, Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) found himself at goalkeeper for the Crusaders. Zobeck earned the victory, while Goldreich took the loss despite his seven stops.
“One of biggest differences in today’s game was the presence of Stefan in the middle,” said Avery. “We didn’t have him on Saturday against UNLV, and that hurt our overall confidence as a team. It was great to see him back on the field and he made his presence very much felt today. It was also great to see Kyle in goal again for us. We’re lucky to have a pair of excellent goalies that we have confidence in, and both goalies played extremely well for us this weekend.”
Valparaiso (2-0-0) returns to the pitch on late Friday afternoon in Milwaukee, Wis. at Marquette, taking on Santa Clara at 5 p.m. Live stats for the match will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.