Junior Jaymie Bullard (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) equalized for the Valparaiso men’s soccer team just 14 seconds into the second half of play Friday night in Pittsburgh, Pa., but Duquesne knocked home the eventual match-winner in the 69th minute for a 2-1 victory in the Crusaders’ first match at the Duquesne Invitational.
“This was a really good game for us tonight at this point in the season; it was exactly what we needed,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “A lot of good things came out of tonight, most notably the fact that our guys played hard against a very physical, tough team. We did really well to try to match in the physical aspect of the game. At this point in the season, you want to see a lot of different styles of play. This was certainly a different style of play, one that we'll have to adapt to, and it was a great lesson for our side tonight. Our goal for the season isn’t necessarily to go undefeated, but to become a better team and improve each time out. I thought this was a great step in that direction.”
The first half looked like it would end scoreless as it hit the waning minutes, but the host Dukes got on the board first, scoring in the 41st minute. Austin Lange was able to beat Valpo goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) to a loose ball and tapped it into the back of an open net to give Duquesne the 1-0 lead at the break.
But once the second half got under way, it took just 14 seconds for the Crusaders to equalize. Kelvin Zelee (South Bend, Ind./John Adams [Indiana]) played a long ball from the right-back position into the attacking half, where Guy Shabtay (Ramat-Gan, Israel/Blich [Prairie State C.C.]) corralled it. Shabtay knocked it in Bullard’s direction, where the junior took an excellent one-touch strike that found the back of the net to level the contest.
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, it would be Duquesne which found the back of the net for the match-winner, as Derek Patrizio scored off an assist from Simon Gomez in the 69th minute. Valpo had quality scoring opportunities in an attempt to knot things up yet again, most notably in the 79th minute, when Shabtay and Todd Vervynckt (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) both had efforts rattle off the crossbar, but the Dukes held firm to earn the victory.
Duquesne (2-0-0) held a narrow 16-14 shot advantage over the Crusaders, and put six efforts on frame to Valpo’s two. Zobeck made four stops in goal for the Crusaders, while counterpart Colin Thorp made one save to pick up the win.
“We got a heroic effort out of Zobeck tonight,” said Avery. “He’s been in bed sick all week, didn’t train once, and we didn’t know if he would be able to play tonight. He came in there on a really hot and humid night and did his normal amazing job in goal.”
Valparaiso (1-1-0) closes out action at the Duquesne Invitational on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. CDT, when the Crusaders take on Pittsburgh. Live stats for the game can be found at www.valpoathletics.com.