The Valparaiso men’s soccer team played its first regular season match under the lights at Brown Field Sunday evening and gave the home fans a taste of the way the season has gone so far, earning a 2-0 victory over Bowling Green State University.
“It’s always nice to get a win in the home opener, especially with this being our first regular season game under the lights,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “There were a lot of reasons why this was a good, solid victory. Bowling Green is a very difficult opponent to play against and I give their coaching staff a great deal of credit. They were an organized, hard-working side and they made it hard for us to play tonight. We weren’t able to find a rhythm in our play, but I am proud that our guys figured out other ways to score goals and come out with the win.”
The win moves the Crusaders to 5-0-1 on the year as they continue to extend the best start in program history. The streak of six consecutive matches without a loss matches the longest such stretch all-time, a mark set last year when Valpo went 5-0-1 during a late-season stretch. The shutout was also the Crusaders’ fifth already in 2010, as the squad lowered its already miniscule goals against average to 0.16.
Valpo cracked the scoreboard early on in Sunday’s contest, finding the back of the net in the 14th minute. Senior Adrian Ortiz (Berwyn, Ill./Morton West) sent a trio of corner kicks into the six-yard box within a one-minute span, the final of which redshirt junior Wei Ming Wong (Hong Kong/Hong Kong International [SMU]) got his head on and directed inside the far post to put the Crusaders ahead 1-0. For Wong, it was his first career goal, while Ortiz picked up the 11th assist of his career.
Ortiz had a premium chance to give the Crusaders insurance in the 59th minute, but his first shot from in close was blocked by a Falcon defender and his rebound attempt was tipped away by a diving effort from BGSU goalkeeper Miguel Rosales. But senior Jake Freisinger (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central) took care of an insurance tally in the 73rd minute, gaining possession near midfield and running straight up the middle of the pitch before unleashing a shot just inside the 18-yard box to the lower right corner for the final tally.
Valpo held a slight 16-14 advantage in shots over BGSU (1-2-2), but the Crusader defense forced the vast majority of the Falcons’ attempts to come from distance. Crusader goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) made seven saves, most of which were routine stops but also included a diving save on a free kick in the 82nd minute, while his counterpart stopped two shots. Schwarz now holds a 4-0-0 record and has not given up a goal in 317:46 of action this year, while Valpo extended its shutout streak as a team to nearly 400 minutes.
“I’m just so proud of the guys right now,” said Avery. “All year long, we’ve found ways to win games, and to be sitting unbeaten at this point in the season is very, very impressive. I’m most excited, though, that we can still play better than we have so far. I’m hopeful we can start to put things together as we begin league play and start playing some of our very best soccer.”
Valparaiso (5-0-1) begins Horizon League play under the lights at Brown Field on Friday, as the Crusaders host Milwaukee. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and 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.