Valparaiso (5-0-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Horizon League play begins at Brown Field
Friday, Sept. 24 - 7 p.m. - Milwaukee (1-3-2, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Sunday, Sept. 26 - 6 p.m. - Wright State (4-2-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso takes aim at remaining unbeaten this weekend in a pair of home matches. The Crusaders open Horizon League play Friday night against Milwaukee before taking on Wright State Sunday evening.
Wrapping Up Last Week: The Crusaders continued their impressive record-setting start to the 2010 campaign with two more victories last weekend. Valpo snuck past IUPUI in Indianapolis, 1-0, on a golden goal by Zack Stivers before earning a relatively easy 2-0 victory in its home opener Sunday against Bowling Green. Kyle Zobeck played the first half in goal against IUPUI, while Ryan Schwarz concluded the win over the Jaguars between the pipes and earned the clean sheet against BGSU.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will broadcast both of this weekend’s matches live from Brown Field, with audio streams available online at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will be available for both of this weekend’s matches through the official Crusader website 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: Milwaukee - Valpo leads 2-1-2 (2-0-2 under Avery); last meeting: 4-0 Valpo @ Valpo 11/10/09 in HL quarterfinal [Roth 7’, 78’; Stivers 53’; Zelee 88’; Schwarz 6 saves]
Wright State - Wright State leads 8-0-0; last meeting 3-2 (ot) WSU @ WSU 10/4/09 [Shively 6’, 26’; Schwarz 2 saves; WSU goals 48’, 88’, 92’]
Scouting the Opposition: Milwaukee enters the Horizon League opener Friday at 1-3-2 on the season. First-year head coach Chris Whalley has split action between the pipes between two goalkeepers, as both sophomore John Shakon and junior Bryce Boyd have surrendered just four goals in three games. But the Panther offense has scored just six goals, three of which have been tallied by sophomore Andrew Wiedabach. In fact, no UWM player other than Wiedabach has scored since its season opener.
Wright State is 4-2-0 on the year pending the result of a Wednesday meeting with Bowling Green. Freshman Derek Zuniga leads the offense with five points (1 goal, 3 assists), while sophomore Brad Bamberger and freshman Bryce Rockwell-Ashton have both scored two of WSU’s 10 goals. Junior Corey Whisenhunt has seen the majority of action in goal, posting a 0.96 GAA.
The Unbeaten Streak Continues: With the pair of wins last week, Valpo is now 5-0-1 on the season, an undefeated stretch of six straight fixtures. Six straight matches without a loss matches the longest such stretch in program history, set by last year’s side from Oct. 17 through Nov. 10. In fact, dating back to Oct. 17 of the 2009 season, the Crusaders are an incredible 10-1-2 over their last 13 matches.
Best Start in Program History: By virtue of the Crusaders’ scoreless draw with Florida Gulf Coast on Sept. 12, the 2010 squad had posted the best start to a season in program history, a mark which continues to grow with every successive win or draw. 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.
A Shutout Streak as Well: Not to be overlooked is the fact that the Crusaders are also working on a program record shutout streak. This year’s squad has now posted four straight shutouts, the most consecutive clean sheets in team history, and also has kept opponents off the scoreboard for the last 400:42 of game action.
Crusaders Regionally Ranked: The Crusaders found themselves moving up the NSCAA regional rankings this week, as the 5-0-1 start was enough for Valpo to be voted 7th after breaking into the Great Lakes Region poll in 10th last week. This marks just the second time in program history Valpo has been regionally ranked, joining the 2006 side.
No Margin for Error: Valpo’s two-goal victory over BGSU on Sunday was a cakewalk compared to the rest of this year’s matches. The Crusaders’ first five games of the year were all 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 - 5 of 6 matches, Valpo 4-0-1
Three of those games have gone overtime, while another was decided in the 88th minute. 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 six games and currently ranks behind only the nation’s top-ranked team in Akron in save percentage (.962) and shutout percentage (.833) and also sits third in GAA (0.16).
Taj and TOCO: Valparaiso will be hosting its second annual charity game to raise money for They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) on Friday against Milwaukee. The Crusaders are waiving the standard admission charge and instead accepting donations for TOCO, with the soccer program matching all donations. New or gently used soccer equipment, athletic apparel and shoes will also be collected to distribute by TOCO to needy children in the Caribbean. TOCO’s founder, St. Lucian reggae artist Taj Weekes, will be in attendance at the day and will also be speaking to a number of groups on campus during the day Friday. For more information on TOCO, visit www.theyoftencryoutreach.org.
Schwarz Keeps Posting Shutouts: Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz has been literally perfect between the pipes so far this year. Schwarz is 4-0-0 on the year with shutouts in all three of his starts, in addition to a relief performance Friday against IUPUI. He has stopped 17 shots over his 317:46 in net so far this season, and is tied with top-ranked Akron goalkeeper David Meves atop the national statistical rankings in both GAA and save percentage.
What a Stretch: Dating back to last season, Schwarz is on quite a run between the pipes. With three clean sheets already this year, the fifth-year senior now has posted seven shutouts in his last nine starts in goal. Schwarz also has not allowed a goal in the last six 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 and a half games en route to a 1-0-1 record, and earned his first shutout since Nov. 2, 2008 on Sept. 12 in the scoreless draw with Florida Gulf Coast. Zobeck currently ranks second in the Horizon League in both GAA (0.36) and save percentage (.875).
Ortiz On the Assist: 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 on Sept. 10. Ortiz then picked up another assist on a corner kick for the Crusaders’ first goal against BGSU Sunday, giving him 11 career assists, ninth-most in Valpo history.
Deja Vu: Fans can be forgiven if they thought they were reading an old game story last Friday. One year and four days after senior forward Zack Stivers gave the Crusaders a win over IUPUI with a golden goal 2:22 into overtime, he netted a golden goal against the Jaguars this year just 2:46 into extra time. While last year’s tally came on a penalty kick, this year’s version came during the run of play. The goal was the 10th of Stivers’ career.
Spreading Out the Goals: Six different players have accounted for Valpo’s seven goals this year after a new duo scored Sunday against BGSU. Redshirt junior defender Wei Ming Wong netted his first career goal on a header for the eventual match-winner over the Falcons, while senior midfielder Jake Freisinger found the back of the net for the second time in his career on an insurance tally.
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.
Celebratory Debuts: Junior forward Guy 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.).
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.