Valparaiso (1-0-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
at Duquesne Invitational - Pittsburgh, Pa.
Friday, Sept. 2 - 7 p.m. CDT - at Duquesne (1-0-0)
Sunday, Sept. 4 - 10 a.m. - vs. Pittsburgh (0-2-0)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team hits the road for the first time in 2011 this weekend, traveling to Pittsburgh, Pa. to take on Pitt and the host Dukes as part of the Duquesne Invitational. The Crusaders enter the weekend coming off of a record-setting performance last Friday night.
Following the Crusaders: This weekend’s games will not be broadcast by Valpo’s student radio station, WVUR, 95.1 FM. Live stats for both matches will be available, however, at www.valpoathletics.com. Live video for the Duquesne match will be available through Duquesne’s website for a fee as well.
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 currently owns 30 victories as head coach 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: Two more first-time foes are on tap this weekend, as Valparaiso has never faced either Duquesne or Pittsburgh on the pitch. Following Sunday, the Crusaders will have no more first-time opponents on the schedule the remainder of the season.
Wrapping Up Last Week: Valparaiso opened the 2011 campaign in resounding fashion, defeating Calumet College under the lights at Brown Field on Aug. 26 by an 8-0 count. The Crusaders netted five goals in the first half, including four in the first 15 minutes, before tallying three times in the final 10 minutes to close out the game. Kyle Zobeck needed to make just one save in goal for the shutout.
Scouting the Opposition: Duquesne - Adam Clement scored the eventual match-winner in the 11th minute and Simon Gomez added an insurance goal in the 68th minute as the Dukes opened the season with a 2-0 win over Niagara last Friday. Colin Thorp made two saves to earn the shutout.
Pittsburgh - The Panthers dropped both of their contests on the opening weekend of the season, falling to Robert Morris (2-1) and St. Francis [PA] (3-0). Nino Wrobel netted a penalty kick for Pitt against RMU, the Panthers’ lone goal of the season.
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.
Record-Setting Performance: The Crusaders opened the season with a bang on Friday, scoring eight goals in the 8-0 victory over Calumet. The eight goals marks a new program record for goals in a single game; previously seven, which was accomplished twice, most recently in 1995. The eight-goal winning margin also set a new team record in that category.
Spreading Out the Wealth: Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Crusaders’ 8-0 victory was how many different players contributed to it. 24 players in all saw the pitch, with eight different players scoring the eight goals. Six different athletes tallied assists as well, with only Stipo Zeba factoring in more than one goal. In fact, the Crusaders’ eight goal-scorers and 13 point-scorers match Valpo’s total number of goal-scorers and point-scorers, respectively, from the 2010 campaign.
A First Time For Everything: Five of Valpo’s eight goal scorers on Friday tallied their first career goals. Gerardo Avelar, Charles Barden, Clayton Lyons, Todd Vervynckt and Stipo Zeba all netted for the first time in their careers against the Crimson Wave, with Avelar getting off the mark in his debut. In addition, a trio of Crusaders picked up their first career assist in Zeba, Jordan Lewis and Andy Lynn.
Loving the Openers: Junior Jaymie Bullard might wish that every game was a season opener. Two years ago, in his first career game, Bullard scored twice in a 2-0 win over Eastern Illinois. After having gone since that game without scoring, Bullard found the back of the net against Calumet for his third career goal.
All Positions In On the Action: Players at nearly every position on the field were able to score for the Crusaders in their season-opening win. Fifth-year senior Stefan Antonijevic, who moved from midfield to center back this year, came forward on a free kick and headed home his seventh career goal in just the fourth minute. Meanwhile, senior Guy Shabtay, the lone forward in Valpo’s starting XI, netted an unassisted tally in the 15th minute.
Zobeck Sets a New Mark: While redshirt junior Kyle Zobeck had to make just one save for the clean sheet against Calumet, he also set a new Valpo career record in the process. Zobeck surpassed the 2,500 career minutes mark in the 78th minute, qualifying him for the Crusaders’ career GAA chart, atop which he currently ranks with a 1.18 GAA. The shutout was also the eighth of his career.
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.