Valparaiso (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders open 2011 campaign under the lights
Friday, Aug. 26 - 7:30 p.m. - Calumet College (0-0-0)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team gets the 2011 season underway this Friday, Aug. 26 as the Crusaders host Calumet College on the pitch at Brown Field at 7:30 p.m. Valpo enters the 2011 campaign coming off of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in program history.
Following the Crusaders: Valpo fans can catch live audio of the season opener online on SportsJuice.com, with a direct link to the broadcast available at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will also be available for Friday’s contest via the official website of the Crusaders.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery returns for his fifth season at the helm of the Crusaders’ men’s soccer program after leading Valpo to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in program history. Avery, who has won 29 matches in his first four seasons at Valpo, led the Crusaders to a 9-8-2 record last season, matching the second-most wins in a single season all-time at Valpo.
Series Notes: For the second straight season, a first-time opponent opens up the slate for the Crusaders, as Valpo and Calumet College have never met in regular season action.
Wrapping Up Exhibition Action: Valparaiso took to the field just once during the preseason this year, hosting Oakland under the lights at Brown Field last Saturday, Aug. 20. Valpo out-shot the Golden Grizzlies by a 12-4 mark, led by three shots from Guy Shabtay, but the match ended in a scoreless draw. Kyle Zobeck earned the start in goal and went the distance, making one save for the clean sheet.
Scouting the Opposition: Calumet College will be playing Friday night’s match as an exhibition contest. The Crimson Wave are an NAIA side led by head coach Peter Haring. Calumet ended the 2010 season with a 3-11-4 record and returns 11 letterwinners this year.
Valpo in Season Openers: The Crusaders are just 8-19-1 all-time in season openers, but have started the season 1-0 in four of the past five years, including three of four under Avery. Last year’s season opener saw forward Guy Shabtay find the back of the net with a strike in the 88th minute on his debut to give Valpo a 1-0 victory. Goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz made six saves to secure the clean sheet, matching the Crusaders’ career record for shutouts in the process.
Looking Back at 2010: The Crusaders continued their momentum moving forward as a program on the rise in 2010, finishing last season with a 9-8-2 record. By finishing a game above .500, Valpo secured back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in program history. It was also a historic season defensively for the Crusaders, as they matched a program best by surrendering just 16 goals in the 19 contests.
Crusaders Picked Fourth in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish in a tie for fourth place in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll. Only Butler, Cleveland State and Milwaukee were projected ahead of the Crusaders.
In Search of a Fast Start: This season’s iteration of the Crusaders would do well to match the start the 2010 squad had. Last year’s Valpo side began the season 5-0-1, setting the best start to a season in program history and matching the program’s longest unbeaten streak. Their fast start to the 2010 season also propelled the Crusaders into the NSCAA Great Lakes Regional Rankings, where they rose as high as #7.
Plenty of Experience Returns: The Crusaders bring an experienced side into the 2011 season, as 19 letterwinners return from a season ago. The majority of the starting XI returns intact as well, while there are also plenty of upperclassmen for the underclassmen to learn from, as Valpo has nine seniors and ten juniors on its roster.
Zobeck to Key the Defense: Four of the top six defensive seasons in school history have occurred over the last four years, and redshirt junior goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck is looking to help the Crusaders post another stellar defensive campaign. Splitting time with graduated senior Ryan Schwarz last year, Zobeck surrendered just four goals in nearly 650 minutes of action, good for a miniscule 0.56 GAA. An All-Newcomer Team selection in 2008, Zobeck enters the 2011 season needing to play just 67 minutes to qualify for Valpo’s career GAA chart, which he would currently lead at 1.23.
Other Honorees Returning: Two Crusaders who picked up postseason accolades from the Horizon League last season are back for their senior years in 2011. Stefan Antonijevic, a two-time Second Team All-League honoree, will move from the midfield to defense this season, pairing with fellow fifth-year senior Wei Ming Wong in the center back. Guy Shabtay picked up All-Newcomer Team honors last year after scoring four goals in his first year with the Crusaders, and earned the start up top in Valpo’s exhibition contest.