Senior forward Zack Stivers (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) found the back of the net in the 93rd minute of play Friday in Indianapolis, Ind., giving Valparaiso a 1-0 overtime victory over IUPUI. The win extends the Crusaders’ season-opening unbeaten streak to five games.
“First off, I want to congratulate our guys, because I knew this would be a hard game today,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “It was our fifth game in a row on road, playing against an opponent that knows us well from our Mid-Con days. There’s a lot of history between our two sides, and the history has always been hard games. Today was no different, it was pretty clear that we were the team looking to try to score, but IUPUI just kept breaking the rhythm of play and made it just very difficult for us to find the goal.”
For Stivers, it was the second straight season that he scored a golden goal less than three minutes into the first overtime against IUPUI. While last season he stepped up and knocked home a penalty kick, Friday’s goal came during the run of play. Sophomore midfielder Kevin Miller (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) slid a pass through for Stivers, who cut through the Jaguars’ back four and hit a diagonal shot to the far post for the deciding tally.
While that would be the game’s lone tally, the Crusaders had numerous chances at breaking through. Valpo was credited with 18 shot attempts on the afternoon to IUPUI’s seven shots and put five shots on frame to three for the Jaguars. Adrian Ortiz (Berwyn, Ill./Morton West) had perhaps the Crusaders’ best chance during regulation play, ringing a shot off the crossbar in the 81st minute.
But Valpo would need just the one goal on Friday, thanks in large part to yet another shutout by one of the nation’s best defenses so far in 2010. The Crusaders posted their fourth shutout as a team in the season’s first five games. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) played the first half in goal, while fifth-year senior Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) defended the frame in the second half and overtime. Both Crusader keepers made one save, while Valpo’s defense also made a stop in the first half. IUPUI (2-3-0) goalkeeper Tyler Keever made four saves in the losing effort.
“I give credit to IUPUI, but our guys hung tough and Zack eventually scored a great goal for us in overtime,” said Avery. “We’re pretty happy to jump on the bus and get home tonight. We look forward to playing a good Bowling Green team at home on Sunday and try to keep our unbeaten streak alive.”
Valparaiso (4-0-1) makes its 2010 home debut at Brown Field on Sunday evening under the lights, as the Crusaders host Bowling Green at 7 p.m. All the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live stats.