Valparaiso redshirt junior Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake County/Marquette]) headed in his fourth goal of the season midway through the second half to knot up Sunday’s match with UIC at Brown Field, but the Flames’ Eric Frazier scored his second goal of the game in the 106th minute as the Crusaders fell 2-1.
Frazier got the Flames on the board very early on, as in the fourth minute he sent a scorching strike from 35 yards out to the upper-left corner of the goal. The shot was one of just seven attempted by the two sides combined in the opening half.
The game started to open up in the second half, as UIC attempted seven second-half shots to six for Valpo. Four of the Flames’ efforts were on frame, but Crusader goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) stopped all four shots, including two saves prior to the equalizer, which happened in the 63rd minute. Senior Roby Del Giudice (Toronto, Ont./Robert F. Hall [Wallace State C.C.]) took a free kick from 25 yards out after a UIC foul and sent it toward the right side of the eight-yard box. Antonijevic used his 6-6 frame to get above the crowd and head it inside the near post to tie the match at one.
Antonijevic had a golden opportunity for his second marker of the game and a golden goal to boot less than two minutes into extra time, as he got behind the defense, turned and brought down the ball 1-v-1 on the right side of the box with UIC goalkeeper Steve Purdy. But the junior’s effort was turned away behind the end line by Purdy, and the sides played on. Valpo actually outshot UIC, 5-3, over the two overtime sessions, but it was Frazier who sent UIC home the victors. Frazier dribbled the ball from the left side to the middle along the top of the 18, turned and struck the ball along the ground through a Crusader defender and into the lower left corner of the goal for the deciding tally.
Valpo closed the game with a 15-13 shot advantage over UIC, with the Flames putting seven shots on frame to the Crusaders’ six. Purdy made five saves in the winning effort for UIC (7-9-0, 3-4-0 Horizon), while Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) started for Valpo and made one save before exiting due to injury in the 21st minute. Zobeck made four stops in his relief appearance. The Crusaders held a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks as well.
“I thought our guys played well and played hard tonight, but give credit to UIC,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “They took advantage of their chances, and I thought Frazier took an excellent shot for their first goal. We will just keep fighting as we prepare for our last two games, because we still have a lot to play for in terms of finishing with a winning record.”
Valparaiso (7-8-2, 1-6-0 Horizon) takes on its final non-league opponent of the year Wednesday evening at Brown Field as the Crusaders host Eastern Illinois. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and audio and video webcasts will be available online at www.valpoathletics.com, with the audio also available locally on WVUR, 95.1 FM. Live stats will also be available through the official Crusader website.