The Valparaiso men’s soccer team opened Horizon League play on the road Saturday evening in Cleveland, Ohio and was able to come away having earned a result, dueling to a 0-0 (2ot) draw with Cleveland State.
“It was a very good performance from our guys tonight,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “Cleveland State is a good team, especially at home. It was a good game and relatively even for the most part. Towards the end of regulation and into the overtimes, we really forced the issue and had some good looks trying to get a goal, but it didn’t work out for us. It wasn’t for the lack of good opportunities; we had some really nice shots, hit them on target and then [CSU’s] keeper was able to make some saves.”
The Crusaders made good use of their 11 shot attempts Saturday, as six Valpo players combined to put seven total shots on goal over the course of the 110 minutes. But Cleveland State (2-5-1, 0-0-1 Horizon) netminder Brad Stuver stopped all seven shots on goal, including efforts in the second overtime period from fifth-year senior Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake County/Marquette]) and senior Guy Shabtay (Ramat-Gan, Israel/Blich [Prairie State C.C.]). Antonijevic also had a header opportunity near the end of regulation off a throw-in that was denied by the crossbar.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the pitch, redshirt junior Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) had to make just one save, stopping a shot from CSU’s Jordan Hart in the 96th minute, as the Crusader defense allowed just one of the Vikings’ ten shot attempts to be on frame. For Zobeck, it was his third shutout in the Crusaders’ last four games and fourth overall this season, already tied for fifth-most in a single season in Valpo history. It also marked Zobeck’s 11th career clean sheet, just one shy of Aaron Rhame for third in a Crusader career in the category.
“We’re a little disappointed we couldn’t win the game, but we were able to get a valuable point in the league race while on the road,” said Avery. “In a league that’s as tight as the Horizon, you have to take points any way you can get them, especially when you’re not at home. So, in that aspect, we’re excited that we were able to get something positive out of the trip, and now we’re ready to get back home and prepare for Detroit.”
Valparaiso (3-3-2, 0-0-1 Horizon) makes a brief stop back home at Brown Field this coming Friday, Sept. 30 as the Crusaders host Detroit in Horizon League action. Live stats for the league showdown will be available online at www.valpoathletics.com.