Valparaiso got out to a
strong start Sunday night at Brown Field against Wright State, scoring two
goals within the first 20 minutes, and carried it throughout the match despite
playing a man down the final 46 minutes, eventually earning a 3-1 victory over
the Raiders in Horizon League action.
“I’m proud of our guys for
their response to a tough loss on Friday,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “Our guys came back on a quick turnaround
after that loss, and I thought we played really well tonight.”
The Crusaders got on the
board in the 8th minute on a play that started off innocuously
enough, as Valpo was awarded a free kick at midfield. But sophomore Jonathon Smith (McKinney, Texas/McKinney)
stepped up and sent a pinpoint service off the free kick into the middle of the
six-yard box, a 55-yard ball in the air.
On the other end of the play, 6’6” redshirt junior Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake
County/Marquette]) did the rest, getting above the crowd of players in the box
and heading it into the back of the net to put the Crusaders ahead.
“I thought that Stefan was
terrific for us tonight,” said Avery.
“When our attack is going through him, we're a very difficult team to
play against, and he did a great job tonight, even beyond the goal, both
offensively and defensively. I thought
Jonathan had a good game as well; him and Stefan were our two best players
tonight and it was fitting that it was the two of them who connected for our
Another free kick added to
the Crusader lead in the 20th minute, but this goal would come in a
more direct manner. A foul just outside
the box on the left flank created a free kick from 20 yards out, and junior Guy Shabtay (Ramat-Gan, Israel/Blich
[Prairie State C.C.]) sent in a perfectly placed bending strike to the
upper-left corner of the goal to push the Valpo advantage to 2-0.
It looked like Valpo would
take that two-goal advantage into the locker room, but with less than two
minutes remaining in the opening half, the Crusaders had a player issued the straight
red card, leaving them down to 10 players for the remainder of the game. Wright State (4-4-0, 0-1-0 Horizon) took
advantage in the 45th minute, as Angelo Capuano sent in a cross from
the right that Justin Circle headed home to cut the Valpo lead in half at
But the Crusaders surely did
not play like a side a man down in the second 45 minutes, maintaining the
better of possession and out-shooting the Raiders 7-4 in the second half. Still, with just a one-goal edge, Valpo was
looking for an insurance tally, one that eventually came in the 63rd
minute. Senior Zack Stivers (Brownsburg,
Ind./Brownsburg) was taken down from
behind by WSU goalkeeper Corey Whisenhunt inside the box as the duo chased
after a ball along the goal line, resulting in a penalty kick for the
Crusaders. Stivers stepped up and calmly
converted on the spot kick for his team-best third goal of the season.
“I thought we played very
well even thought we played down a man for the whole second half,” said
Avery. “I was disappointed in the lack
of discipline to get the red card, but I thought the rest of our team really picked
him up because we played very, very well from that point on.”
Valparaiso held a 14-8 advantage in the shots category over the
90 minutes of play and put six efforts on frame to the Raiders’ five. Fifth-year senior Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) made four saves to earn his fifth
victory of the season for the Crusaders, while Whisenhunt stopped three shots
in the loss for Wright
Valparaiso (6-1-1, 1-1-0 Horizon) earned its first victory
in nine attempts all-time against Wright
State Sunday evening and
got a key three points in league play.
The Crusaders have another pair of Horizon League fixtures on tap next
weekend on the road, starting with a 3 p.m. CDT match on Friday, October 1 at Butler. Live stats for the showdown with the Bulldogs
will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.