Valparaiso (3-3-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Saturday, Sept. 24 - 6 p.m. CDT - at Cleveland State (2-5-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso opens the Horizon League schedule this weekend, traveling to Cleveland State for a Saturday night contest. The game against the Vikings marks the first of three league matchups in the Crusaders’ next four games.
Wrapping Up Last Week: For the second straight weekend, Valpo split a pair of shutouts. The Crusaders returned home to Brown Field for the first time since the season opener to defeat IUPUI, 1-0, on Friday night. But Valpo then fell at Western Michigan on Sunday by a 2-0 score.
Following the Crusaders: Saturday’s game is slated to be the second of six video webcasts broadcast live on the Horizon League Network this season. Live stats for the match against the Vikings will be available as well through www.valpoathletics.com.
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 32 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: The Crusaders trail the all-time series with the Vikings by a 10-3-0 margin, but under Avery the last four years, Valpo and Cleveland State have split four meetings. Last season, it was the Vikings who earned the victory on their home pitch, as a goal in the 86th minute gave Cleveland State the 1-0 victory. The Crusaders lost despite out-shooting CSU 9-7 and putting five shots on goal to the Vikings’ four.
Scouting the Opposition: Cleveland State enters Saturday’s matchup with a 2-5-0 record and has lost four straight contests, including a 2-1 decision to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday. Admir Suljevic has netted four of the Vikings’ seven goals on the season, while Brad Stuver has played most of the minutes in goal and owns a 1.98 GAA.
Valpo in League Openers: Since joining the Horizon League, the Crusaders own a 1-1-2 mark in league openers. In fact, last season was the first time since joining the league that Valpo did not earn a result in the opener, as Milwaukee claimed a 2-1 overtime victory over the Crusaders.
Get Ready For Close Games: Five of Valpo’s first seven games this year have been ties or one-goal decisions, and if history is any indication, a lot of one-goal games are still on the horizon. Through their four seasons as a Horizon League member, the Crusaders have had 27 of 32 league contests end as one-goal decisions or draws.
Another First Timer: The Crusaders had their sixth first-time goal scorer of the year on Friday, as freshman Eric Nieto found the back of the net against IUPUI for the match-winner. Nieto becomes the fifth member of the current Valpo roster to make his first career goal a game-winning goal.
Zobeck Cleans Up: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck came up with his third shutout of the season and 10th of his career in the win over IUPUI on Friday, leaving him just two shy of Aaron Rhame for third in Crusader history in the category. Zobeck, who also assumed the top spot on Valpo’s career GAA chart earlier this season, currently is tied for the Horizon League lead with his three shutouts and ranks second in GAA (0.83).
Better Late Than Never: Valpo’s winning goal against Northwestern came just in the nick of time, as senior Chadd Sult found the back of the net on a feed from sophomore Todd Vervynckt with just 17 seconds remaining. For Sult, it was his second career tally, while Vervynckt owns a team-best five points on the season.
All-Tournament Selections: Both Sult and Vervynckt earned a spot on the NIU adidas Invitational All-Tournament Team after teaming up for the match-winner against the Wildcats, and were joined on the squad by fifth-year senior Stefan Antonijevic. It marked the third career All-Tournament honor for Antonijevic and second in as many weeks, as both he and junior Kevin Miller received All-Tournament recognition at the Duquesne Invitational.
Spreading the Wealth: Nieto’s goal made him the tenth different Crusader to find the back of the net already this season as Valpo has tallied 12 goals through seven games. Only Vervynckt and junior Jaymie Bullard have scored multiple times for Valpo so far this year. The ten different goal scorers already has surpassed the number of unique goal scorers the Crusaders had in 2010.
Record-Setting Performance: The Crusaders opened the season with a bang on Aug. 26, scoring eight goals in the 8-0 victory over Calumet. The eight goals marked 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.
A First Time For Everything: Five of Valpo’s eight goal scorers against the Crimson Wave 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 Calumet, 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.
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.