Valparaiso (6-6-2, 1-4-0 Horizon)
Crusaders start stretch of four out of last five at home
Wednesday, Oct. 20 - 7 p.m. - Western Michigan (7-4-2, 2-0-0 MAC)
Saturday, Oct. 23 - 7 p.m. - at Green Bay (7-4-1, 3-2-0 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso closes out a three-match stretch of non-league contests with a game against Western Michigan at home Wednesday night. The Crusaders then hit the road for the final time in the regular season for a league showdown at Green Bay Saturday evening.
Wrapping Up Last Week: The Crusaders took on both of the Big Ten co-leaders in non-league action last week. Valpo got into a second-half shootout with Michigan Wednesday night, eventually falling 4-2, and took #16/17 Ohio State into overtime before the Buckeyes scored the golden goal for the 1-0 victory.
Following the Crusaders: For the first time ever, live video of a Valparaiso men’s soccer home match will be available, as fans will be able to watch all the action live from Brown Field on Wednesday night against Western Michigan. Live audio and live stats will be available for both of this week’s matches, with the audio broadcast also available locally on WVUR, 95.1 FM.
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: Western Michigan - Valpo trails 6-11-1 (2-1-0 under Avery); last meeting 2-1 (ot) Valpo @ WMU 9/16/09 [Roth 22’, assist; Stivers 96’, assist; Shively assist; Schwarz 2 saves; WMU goal 66’]
Green Bay - Valpo trails 2-10-0 (1-3-0 under Avery); last meeting 3-1 Green Bay @ Butler 11/13/09 (HL semifinal) [Jeftich 79’; Schwarz 3 saves; Green Bay goals 13’, 74’, 77’]
Scouting the Opposition: Western Michigan enters this week at 7-4-2 overall and a perfect 2-0-0 in MAC action. The Broncos boast a high-powered offense that has scored 27 goals this season, led by seven goals and three assists by Shane Lyons. Kai Mendes has also contributed four goals and five assists. Three goalies have split time for WMU, with Sean Lewis (1.48 GAA, .771 save pct.) playing 55% of the minutes in net.
Green Bay owns a 7-4-1 record overall and is 3-2-0 in Horizon League play, right in the middle of the standings entering this week’s action. The Phoenix are led by JC Banks, who has netted eight of the side’s 21 goals and also has five assists to his credit. Tony Walls has added three goals and four assists, while seven other Phoenix players have also scored goals this year. Ryan Wehking has played every minute in net for Green Bay and boasts a 1.29 GAA.
Unbeaten Streak Comes to An End: With its loss to Milwaukee Sept. 24, Valpo saw its six-match unbeaten streak to open the 2010 season snapped. The six-match streak without a loss matched the previous longest stretch in program history, set by last year’s side from Oct. 17 through Nov. 10.
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. 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.
The Home Stretch: Wednesday starts a stretch of fixtures in which the Crusaders close the regular season playing four of their final five at home, a welcome site for a side which has played 10 of 14 matches so far away from Brown Field. Valpo owns a 2-1-1 home record to date this season and is looking for its fifth straight season with a positive home record.
No Margin for Error: 11 of Valpo’s first 14 games this season have been one-goal games or draws, continuing a trend of “close” games throughout Avery’s tenure:
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 - 11 of 14 matches, Valpo 4-5-2
Seven of those games have gone overtime, while two others were decided in the final five minutes of regulation. In Horizon League play, the two-goal win over Wright State Sept. 26 marked just the fourth time in 29 games since joining the league that Valpo has played a game not decided by one goal or less.
Tough Luck in League Play: Other than their 3-1 victory over Wright State earlier this year, the Crusaders have found themselves snakebitten in Horizon League action. All four of Valpo’s league losses have been by one goal, with two of those coming in extra time and the most recent on Saturday occuring in the 86th minute.
1-nil: Sunday’s 1-0 overtime decision at Ohio State marked a program-record seventh 1-0 game this season. This year’s Crusader squad won the first three 1-0 games of the campaign, but have since dropped four in a row. The previous high had been set by the 2007 side, which played six 1-0 contests and went 2-4 in those games.
A Lot of Extra Time: If it seems like this year’s Crusader squad has played a lot of overtime games, that’s because with their seventh overtime game of the season Sunday at Ohio State, they matched the program record for most overtime games in a single year. Last year’s team also went to extra time on seven occasions.
Defense Still Strong: Despite surrendering at least one goal in each of its last eight games, Valpo’s defensive numbers remain among the best in the nation. The Crusaders, who have allowed more than one goal in a match just twice this year, have a team GAA of 0.87, good for 43rd nationally, and their team save percentage of .822 ranks 35th in the nation.
Schwarz a Mainstay in Goal: Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz continues to rank among the league’s top goalkeepers. Schwarz, who has given up more than one goal just twice this season, currently holds a 1.02 GAA, fourth in the league, and boasts a .796 save percentage, good for fifth among league netminders. Schwarz made six saves at Michigan on Wednesday, giving him 280 career stops, fourth-most in program history and just seven saves out of the third spot.
Zobeck Solid in Net Too: Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck earned another start in goal in non-league action Sunday at #16/17 Ohio State and acquitted himself well, making eight saves before surrendering an overtime tally. Zobeck has now faced four nationally-ranked teams during his time at Valpo and has given up just three goals in those four contests. This season, the sophomore leads the Horizon League with an .857 save percentage and is second in the league with a 0.59 GAA.
Antonijevic Finds the Goal: Redshirt junior midfielder Stefan Antonijevic, who earned MVP honors at the Marquette Invitational earlier this season, now has three goals on the season after finding the back of the net in the second half at Michigan. Antonijevic, who owns five career goals, is second on the team in goals and ranks among the league leaders with 30 shot attempts.
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 Sept. 19, and most recently helped on another Antonijevic marker at Michigan, giving him 12 career assists, tied for fifth-most all-time at Valpo. The senior is now just one shy of a tie for third and two shy of a tie for second.
Freisinger Scores as Well: Senior midfielder Jake Freisinger had just one career goal to his credit entering the 2010 season, but has tallied a pair of goals this season, including most recently a tally against Big Ten co-leader Michigan on Wednesday. Freisinger also has an assist this season, giving him five points on the year, third-most among the Crusader side.
Stivers Continues to Convert PKs: Senior forward Zack Stivers found the back of the net on a penalty kick attempt against Western Illinois on Oct. 6 for his fourth goal of the season. The successful spot kick, his third PK marker of the year, gives the senior six career penalty kick goals on seven attempts. Stivers now has 13 career goals, just three shy of breaking into Valpo’s all-time top-10 in the category.
Game-Winners Galore: Junior forward Guy Shabtay has found the back of the net twice this season and has made both markers count. He scored on a free kick in the 20th minute against Wright State Sept. 26 for the eventual match-winner after previously netting a game-winning goal in Valpo’s season opener at UNLV. Shabtay is the first Crusader newcomer to score multiple match-winners in his first season wearing the Valpo kit since Steve Shively tallied four GWG as a freshman in 2006.
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 is the only multi-goal game by a Valpo player this season after five such efforts a year ago.