Crusader Men Look to Extend Unbeaten Streak
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Crusader Men Look to Extend Unbeaten Streak
Sophomore Kevin Miller was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Marquette Invitational last weekend. (Ray Acevedo)
Valparaiso (3-0-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Friday, Sept. 17 - 4 p.m. - at IUPUI (2-2-0, 0-0-0 Summit)
Sunday, Sept. 19 - 7 p.m. - Bowling Green (0-1-2, 0-1-0 MAC)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso looks to continue the longest unbeaten streak to start a season in program history, concluding a five-match road trip at IUPUI on Friday afternoon before returning home to Brown Field for the first time in 2010 to host Bowling Green on Sunday night.

Wrapping Up Last Week: A second tournament title in as many weekends was in the cards for the Crusaders last weekend, as they brought home the hardware from the Marquette Invitational thanks to a 1-0 win over Santa Clara and a scoreless double-overtime draw against Florida Gulf Coast.  Midfielder Stefan Antonijevic was named Tournament MVP, while goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz, defender Chadd Sult and midfielder Kevin Miller all joined Antonijevic on the All-Tournament Team.

Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) begins its coverage of Valpo men’s soccer on Sunday evening, as the match from Brown Field against Bowling Green will be broadcast live.  Live stats will be available for both of this weekend’s matches through as well.

Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Crusaders in 2010 after guiding the Crusaders to a school record 10 victories and a third-place Horizon League finish in 2009.  In his first three seasons, Avery has led Valpo to three of the best defensive seasons in school history, including allowing just 21 goals a year ago, second-fewest in program history.  Avery has already coached a pair of Goalkeeper of the Year selections and 10 All-League honorees in his three seasons.

Series Notes: IUPUI - Valpo leads 9-6-1 (1-1-0 under Avery); last meeting: 2-1 (ot) Valpo @ Valpo 9/13/09 [Antonievjic goal 42’; Stivers penalty kick goal 93’, 4 shots on goal; Schwarz 1 save]
Bowling Green - Valpo leads 1-0-0; 2-0 Valpo @ BGSU 10/6/09 [Antonijevic goal 53’; Lucas assist; Stivers penalty kick goal 79’; Schwarz 5 saves]

Scouting the Opposition: IUPUI enters Friday’s match at 2-2-0 on the season, most recently winning at Central Arkansas (2-1) and losing at Missouri State (3-0) last weekend.  The Jaguars are led offensively by junior Perez Agaba, who has already netted three goals this year.  Freshman Jeff Keyler has two goals and an assist already as well.  Junior Tyler Keever has started all four matches in goal, posting a 1.66 GAA so far, while sophomore Alex Mannen has entered two matches in net as a substitute.
Bowling Green is 0-1-2 on the year and 0-1-0 in Mid-American Conference action after falling 2-0 to the nation’s top-ranked side in Akron last Saturday.  Junior Max Weston has a goal and an assist this year to lead the Falcons with three points, while junior Miguel Rosales has played every second in net, posting a 1.16 GAA and an .840 save percentage.

Best Start in Program History...:
By virtue of the Crusaders’ scoreless draw with Florida Gulf Coast, the 2010 squad has posted the best start to a season in program history.  This year’s side matched the 1987 and 2006 teams with three straight wins to start the season and became the first Valpo squad to earn a result in each of the first four matches of the year.

...and Still Undefeated: The four-game unbeaten streak to start the season has the Crusaders poised to possibly match the program record for longest unbeaten streak.  Last year’s side earned six straight results from Oct. 17 through Nov. 10, while the 1997 Valpo team had a five-match unbeaten streak during the middle of the campaign.

Crusaders Regionally Ranked: The 3-0-1 start to the season was enough for Valparaiso to break into the NSCAA regional rankings, as the Crusaders were voted 10th in the Great Lakes Region this week.  This marks just the second time in program history Valpo has been regionally ranked, joining the 2006 side.

No Margin for Error: With just four goals in the first four games of the year, the Crusaders have had to be proficient at winning close games to start out 3-0-1.  The first four games of the year have all been one-goal games or draws, continuing a trend of “close” games throughout Avery’s tenure, a trend which has turned in Valpo’s favor recently:
2007 - 13 of 18 matches, Valpo went 3-7-3
2008 - 12 of 19 matches, Valpo went 3-6-3
2009 - 13 of 19 matches, Valpo went 6-5-2
2010 - 4 of 4 matches, Valpo currently 3-0-1
Additionally, in Avery’s first three seasons, an incredible 21 of 24 Horizon League matchups for the Crusaders have either been one-goal games or ties.

No Surrendering: Then again, it’s tough to lose games when your defense isn’t allowing goals, and so far, the Crusader defense and goalkeepers have nearly blanked opponents.  Valpo has given up just one goal in the first four games and currently ranks among the top-10 nationally in shutout percentage (.750, t-5th), goals against average (0.23, 6th) and save percentage (.938, t-7th).

Schwarz Sets the Record: Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz needed just one match after tying current Crusader assistant Jeff Oleck for the program’s career shutout record to break the mark.  Schwarz stopped three shots in a 1-0 win over Santa Clara on Friday for his 15th career clean sheet to give him the record outright.  The All-Tournament Team selection, who already holds the school’s career GAA record and single-season GAA and shutout marks, posted four clean sheets as a freshman and two as a sophomore before tossing up seven 0’s last season.

What a Stretch:
Dating back to last season, Schwarz is on quite a run between the pipes.  With two clean sheets already this year, the fifth-year senior now has posted six shutouts in his last eight games in goal.  Schwarz also has not allowed a goal in the last four contests he has played against opponents from outside the Horizon League.

Remember Me?:
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck, who sat out last season after Schwarz’s return from injury, has split time with the elder netminder this year and has returned just as strong in net.  Zobeck has given up just one goal through two games en route to a 1-0-1 record and earned his first shutout since Nov. 2, 2008 on Sunday in the scoreless draw with Florida Gulf Coast.  Zobeck currently ranks 20th nationally in GAA (0.43) and also is tied for 35th in save percentage (.857).

Antonijevic Earns Honor in Return: Redshirt junior midfielder Stefan Antonijevic earned MVP honors at the Marquette Invitational after scoring the Crusaders’ goal against Santa Clara and dominating the midfield in both matches.  It was especially appropriate that it would be Antonijevic to take top honors, as the junior spent his freshman season playing for Marquette before transferring.

Ortiz Helps Out: It had been nearly two full calendar years since senior midfielder Adrian Ortiz tallied his last assist for the Crusaders, until the senior helped out on Antonijevic’s tally against the Broncos.  The assist was Ortiz’s 10th career helper, putting him in ninth place by himself on Valpo’s all-time chart.

First-Time Award Winners: A pair of Crusaders earned their first collegiate soccer awards last weekend at Marquette.  Junior Chadd Sult and sophomore Kevin Miller were named to the All-Tournament Team for their work in the back and in the midfield, respectively.

Cutting It Close:
Neither one of Valpo’s wins on the opening weekend of play came easy.  The Crusaders’ lone goal against UNLV came off the foot of Guy Shabtay at the 87:05 mark, while Valpo needed a goal from Roby Del Giudice at 87:53 to send its match against UC Riverside to overtime.

Celebratory Debuts: Shabtay’s marker in his first game as a Crusader makes him the third current Valpo player to net a goal in his debut.  Jaymie Bullard scored twice in his first career game, the 2009 season opener at Eastern Illinois, while Kevin Miller debuted mid-season last year and was on the pitch a mere 50 seconds before scoring against St. Francis (Pa.).

Schwarz Earns Weekly Honors: For his record-tying shutout against UNLV on Sept. 4, Schwarz was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week, his first career weekly accolade from the Horizon office despite twice being the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year.  However, back on Oct. 2, 2006, the then-freshman Schwarz was named the Mid-Continent Conference Defensive Player of the Week for a shutout of Oakland.

Del Giudice Doubles Up: Senior midfielder Roby Del Giudice doubled his career goal total after netting both Crusader tallies in the win over UC Riverside Sept. 6.  The two-goal game was the first by a Valpo player this season after five such efforts a year ago.

Looking Back at 2009: The 2009 campaign was a season full of milestones for the Crusader men’s soccer team.  Valpo set a new program standard with 10 victories and finished above .500 for just the second time in team history.  Defensively, the Crusaders surrendered just 21 goals in 19 games, the second-fewest goals allowed in a single year in team history, behind only the 1987 squad.  Valpo also set a new record for longest unbeaten streak, going undefeated (5-0-1) in a six-match stretch from Oct. 11-Nov. 10.

Crusaders Picked Third in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish in a tie for third place in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll.  Only Butler and Green Bay, both NCAA Tournament squads a year ago, were picked to finish ahead of the Crusaders.